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McFaddin
National Wildlife Refuge


A ribbon of water flows through a sea of prairie grasses.
P.O. Box 358
7950 S. Gulfway Dr.
Sabine Pass, TX   77655
E-mail:
Phone Number: (409) 971-2909
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/mcfaddin/
Common scene at McFaddin NWR
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  Overview
McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge
Welcome to the McFaddin and Texas Point NWRs, located on the upper Texas Coast. The two refuges supply important feeding and resting habitat for migrating and wintering populations of waterfowl. Established in 1980 and 1979, respectively, the 55,000 acre McFaddin NWR consists of the largest remaining freshwater marsh on the Texas Coast and thousands of acres of intermediate to brackish marsh, while neighboring Texas Point NWR encompasses 8,900 acres of fresh to salt marsh with some wooded uplands and prairie ridges.

Bayous weave through a seemingly endless expanse of cordgrass, reptilian eyes at the waters surface witness the ever-changing variety of waterfowl, and the call of the clapper rail reverberates through the marsh. For hundreds of years, many of the sights and sounds within this dynamic eco-system have gone untouched. Under the protective umbrella of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the hope and expectation is that they will continue for hundreds more.

McFaddin and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges are two of the 540 refuges that comprise the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife, and you!


Getting There . . .
Both refuges are located along Highway 87 at the southeastern tip of Texas, near the Louisiana border. Approximately 15 miles south of Port Arthur and 90 miles east of Houston, Texas Point NWR is adjacent to Sabine Pass, while McFaddin NWR lies 12 miles further to the west.

Please be aware that stretches of Hwy 87 were destroyed by Hurricane Ike.


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Wildlife and Habitat

From October to March, thousands of geese feeding and resting in the marsh can be heard, if not actually seen. Ducks on the refuge can number up to one hundred thousand with more than two dozen species, including the mottled duck, a year-round resident.

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History
Vacationers to McFaddin NWR's long stretch of beachfront are lounging on ground once inhabited by the Atakapa and Karankawa Indians.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Fishing
Hunting
Photography
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
A healthy marsh is one rich in plant diversity. To accomplish this, refuge staff use a variety of tools to mimic the dynamic ecosystem that, until recently, naturally occurred for thousands of years. Prescribed burns, grazing, managing water levels and controlling exotic plant species are just a few of the tools that the refuge staff use to manage the marsh.

Burning, if done at the right time of the year, will reduce the amount of dead marshhay present and allow other species to grow. If fire is suppressed, several years of dense marsh vegetation will shade the surface, preventing other seeds from germinating or surviving. A productive burn removes vegetation that is just above ground and is usually conducted while there is still some surface water. Water acts as a barrier for the soil, preventing it from getting "cooked" while removing the vegetation. After a fire, most vegetation sprouts from the roots and the marsh is quickly covered with new growth. In addition, many other species of plants will sprout from seed as the sunlight warms the soil.

Grazing is used to increase the value of marsh and wet prairies for wintering waterfowl, nesting mottled ducks and many other wildlife species. Moderate to heavy grazing after a fire will slow the growth of marsh vegetation, which in effect allows other plants to germinate and grow. The combination of prescribed fire and grazing sets back plant succession and produces a marsh with higher plant diversity. The higher diversity of plants translates into more food items for a wider variety of wildlife species. Key food items for wildlife species are the herbaceous portion of plants, flowers, and seeds.

Another key food item for wildlife is terrestrial and aquatic insects because of their high protein content. Standing water in grazed areas will warm more quickly than in areas with heavy growth. Warmer water increases production and growth of invertebrates, including insects. Insects are an essential part of the diet of young birds in order for them to grow and develop properly, and for adult birds so they can breed successfully.

Water is managed on the refuge with water control structures, levees, and weirs. These structures are also used to prevent saltwater intrusion into the freshwater wetlands. It is the combination of water level management, grazing, and prescribed fire that provide the most optimal conditions for producing native food for wildlife and making it available to them.

Another management tool used on the refuge is the control of exotic and noxious vegetation that compete for resources vital to native species. Noxious weed species are often fast growing and have no natural predators and therefore can quickly degrade habitat, ultimately affecting wildlife species. Water hyacinth, Chinese tallow, and giant salvinia are a few of the noxious weeds that are controlled on the refuge. These management practices are essential for preserving and maintaining a diverse and healthy wetland.