Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge
What We’re Doing
Protecting one of North America’s most productive wildlife areas and the nation’s largest undisturbed expanse of wetlands
Safeguard and manage crucial habitat of the threatened Louisiana black bear
The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge flourishes with all the plants and animals typically associated with swamp life. Large looming cypress trees with feathery foliage and bulging, buttressed trunks give the swamp an otherworldly appearance. The slow, meandering river (an ancient channel of the Mississippi) is home to alligators and 54 other reptile species. More than 250 species of birds visit the area or nest here. At the same time, abundant fish, crab, crawfish, and shrimp support a thriving seafood industry.
Though the refuge, in the heart of Cajun country, hosts multiple species, its primary mission is to safeguard and manage the habitat of the Louisiana black bear—a federally threatened subspecies of the American black bear. It is also the homeland of the Chitimacha Tribe.
Trust for Public Land worked with locals and public agencies for more than two decades to protect this area from development and create the refuge. We acquired 9,000 acres to safeguard one of North America’s most productive wildlife areas and the nation’s largest undisturbed expanse of wetlands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge and provides environmental education and opportunities for public recreation.
Public waterways are prolific in these vast wetlands of southern Louisiana, but access remains an issue because public land is scarce. To address that issue, we expanded public access by creating a new parking lot and boat launch. We also focused on restoring the native forest to sequester carbon and improve climate resilience. In the next five years, we’ll partner with local schools and a nearby university to plant more than 660,000 trees as part of a significant reforestation effort.