FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2001
Today representatives from the offices of Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Billy Tauzin will join the Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to celebrate the creation of the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin, Louisiana. Located at the southern extreme of the rich Atchafalaya floodplain, the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is the only NWR in the country specifically created to conserve Louisiana black bears and is a critical part of efforts to bring back this threatened native species. It is the 538th National Wildlife Refuge in the country. An advance media tour of the bayou wilderness is available at 3:15. Ribbon cutting and remarks will start at 4 p.m. at the Franklin Canal Boat Landing.
“The primary reason for establishing the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge is to protect the threatened Louisiana black bear,” said Sam D. Hamilton, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Together with our partners, we are committed to restoring the species throughout its historic range.”
Critical elements of black bear recovery include protecting currently occupied bear habitat, such as Bayou Teche NWR, enhancing areas that bears have the potential to move into, and establishing movement corridors.
Previously owned by the Bailey family of St. Mary Parrish, the 9,000-acre property is a critical link for the threatened Louisiana black bear. In addition to providing important year-round habitat for this unique subspecies of black bear, Bayou Teche NWR also provides rich habitat for a variety of other wildlife, including, wood ducks, neotropical migratory birds, and wintering waterfowl, white-tailed deer, red and grey fox, bobcat, and river otter. The new refuge will be used for environmental education, interpretation, and wildlife-oriented recreation. As ecotourism becomes an increasingly vital part of Louisiana’s economy, Bayou Teche NWR will provide valuable revenue to the local economy. When the refuge is completed, it will encompass 27,000 acres of important wildlife habitat.
Creation of the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge received strong support from Senators Mary Landrieu, D-La., and John Breaux, D-La. In addition, Representative Billy Tauzin, R-La., helped secure funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“I was pleased to support federal funding for Bayou Teche. Protection of this area will be both good for the black bear and good for sportsmen in the Atchafalaya floodplain,” said Rep. Billy Tauzin, (R-3rd).
The creation of the refuge comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares to celebrate the National Wildlife Refuge System’s 100th anniversary in 2003. The refuge system was created by President Theodore Roosevelt to establish public lands to be managed primarily for wildlife. The first National Wildlife Refuge was Pelican Island, in central Florida. It has since grown to include refuges in every state and territory, which provides sanctuary to waterfowl, neo-tropical migratory birds, threatened and endangered species as well as a host of other species.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide valued at $2 billion. TPL has been working in Louisiana for 7 years and opened an office in New Orleans in December 2000. The Wall Street Journal'sSmartMoney magazine recently named TPL the nation's most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
Note to editors: Advance boat tour of bayou wilderness available to press at 3:15 pm, please call Helen O’Shea (704) 376-1839 x 251 to reserve a spot, seating is limited.
Directions to Franklin Canal Boat Landing, Franklin, Louisiana. Take Highway 90 South from Lafayette to the Franklin/Northwest Boulevard exit. At the first stop sign, take a right on Chatsworth Road. Proceed approximately 3 miles and you will see the Franklin Canal Bridge. Cross the Franklin Canal Bridge and take a right turn into the Franklin Canal Boat Landing.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
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