High Water and Road Damage - Refuge Closure

"The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise..."
- Mark Twain

Water levels at the Mississippi River gauge in Baton Rouge have exceeded 24 feet, causing road damage and forcing a closure of Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. To protect visitors, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed the refuge to all activities so that roads could be cleared, repaired, and then safely reopened to the public.

We made good progress fixing roads and preparing to open. That progress included shaping and adding limestone to the entrance road and mowing the road shoulders. We were able to remove fallen trees and debris, mow, and add limestone to the Big Tree Trail. We also cleared the Blue Goose Trail, which will be accessible when the refuge opens.

We intended to open the refuge in early September, however Hurricane Ida made landfall and impacted several of our facilities. We had to shift our focus to emergency repairs to Mandalay, Big Branch Marsh, and Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuges and to our headquarters office in Lacombe. Tropical storm Nicholas following Ida dropped over five inches of rain on Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, which did not help.

We appreciate your continued patience as we continue to address other priority needs in storm recovery. Visitation will resume when repairs to roads are complete. Please continue to check this website — which will be updated as soon as we know an opening date. You can also follow the Friends of Cat Island for updates on the refuge.

You can check Mississippi River levels at the Baton Rouge river gauge at the National Weather Service website here    or call 301/427-9855.

For more information, please contact the refuge office at 985/882-2000.