Dig Baton Rouge

Bird Songs and Treetops

By Chase Berenson

When I once asked a BREC employee about the Burbank Conservation Area, her only answer was a confused look.

She checked her computer and confirmed that it existed, but even her monitor gave her only scant information. That was the moment that piqued my curiosity, and I knew I’d have to explore the wilderness area in Gardere myself.

Unlike most BREC parks in the city, Burbank doesn’t exist as a resource for people to utilize; it exists solely to conserve and preserve nature. This is a lovely idea and creates a 56-acre spot of wilderness where there otherwise wouldn’t be any.

But the flipside is that there are no facilities at Burbank.

There aren’t any bathrooms or park rangers, and you’re completely on your own to enjoy the wilderness. Unfortunately, that also means there is very little basic upkeep.

As you first enter, you’ll notice that people have dumped trash, and it is a less-than-welcoming start to the experience. However, if you just keep going a short distance you’ll get to relatively untarnished forest. Because let’s be honest, if you’re the kind of person who dumps an old TV in a conservation area, you’re the kind of person who’s going to drop it at the earliest possible point and not carry it deep into the woods.

Once you enter the Burbank Conservation Area, it’s as if you’ve crossed a threshold out of Gardere. As the path curves away from the road and into the trees, the songs of birds replace the sounds of city life. There are many types of birds living in the trees, and they create a cacophony of birdcalls that is at once soothing and chaotic.

The primary path through Burbank is about the width of a car, as if a BREC employee may occasionally drive into the area.  After a very short jaunt, the path veers to the right and becomes a smaller trail, with a second trail jutting off. There are no maps of the area, but there really is no fear of getting lost since the trails are so defined. The trails pass through the woods, and you pass through many different environments packed densely into the small area. Sometimes you’re limited to the trail in densely packed brush, but there are also great opportunities for wandering off-trail among high-canopy trees leaving the ground shady but bare.

It doesn’t take very long to wander through the Burbank Conservation Area, but even the short time in the woods is very refreshing. And as you wander out past the gate and back to the road, it seems like a rather rude re-awakening to the fact that the city exists just beyond the reach of the trees.


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