What We Do

The Atchafalaya Basin is part of the largest contiguous system of bottomland hardwood forest and freshwater swamps in North America. The refuge’s wetlands and forests are key to supporting many native species that have declined as a result of habitat fragmentation, including the Louisiana black bear; the Swainson's, northern parula and prothonotary warbler; swallow-tailed kite; and wood thrush. The Atchafalaya is a major bird corridor for fall and spring bird migrations and the refuge has been noted as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.

Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge's conservation objective is to sustain representative habitats of the region —  bottomland hardwood forests, bayous, and wetlands — to provide high quality and diverse habitat to support neotropical songbirds, the Louisiana black bear, waterfowl, and other native fish and wildlife species.

Management and Conservation

Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people.

Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge has a Comprehensive Conservation Plan which specifies a management direction for the Refuge for 15 years (2011-2026). It describes the goals, objectives, and strategies for conserving and improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, management actions needed to achieve desired conditions, and preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment.

Resource management activities on the refuge include:

•    Silvicultural treatments to provide diverse forest habitat for neotropical songbirds. 

•    Silvicultural treatments to encourage hard and soft mast (nuts and fruits) producing plant species that provide food for the Louisiana black bear and other wildlife species.

•    Restoration of habitat by removing invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
. Chinese tallow tree is particularly problematical as it provides no wildlife value while replacing native vegetation. Feral hogs uproot vegetation, cause erosion, and stress native wildlife populations.

•    Water management in the Greentree Reservoir. This area of bottomland timber is flooded periodically to provide food and cover for wintering waterfowl. This activity also supports nesting and brood rearing habitat for resident wood ducks. 

•    An area of moist soil west of the Greentree Reservoir is managed to encourage the growth of preferred vegetation such as annual grasses and other plants that are high quality winter forage for waterfowl.

•    The Bay Denny Natural Area is set aside as a "passively managed" area, where natural processes are allowed to occur with a minimum of disturbance and wildlife has sanctuary from human contact.

Atchafalaya Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan provides a vision for desired conditions of the Refuge. The plan is designed to result in a diversity of habitats for a variety of fish and wildlife species, enhance resident wildlife populations, and provide opportunities...

Our Projects and Research

Since 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey has been studying the frog and toad species inhabiting the Atchafalaya Basin to monitor for population declines and to better understand how the species are potentially affected by disease, environmental contaminants, and climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change

Learn more about frogs and toads of the Atchafalaya basin here.


Law Enforcement

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a law enforcement presence on National Wildlife Refuge lands for wildlife and public safety. Our refuge law enforcement officers protect fish, wildlife, plants and other natural, cultural and historic resources by fostering understanding and instilling in the visiting public an appreciation of refuge resources, laws, and regulations.