National Wildlife Refuge System

Scenic view of Breton NWR Scenic view of Breton NWR Scenic view of Breton NWR Scenic view of Breton NWR

Breton National Wildlife Refuge


About Breton National Wildlife Refuge


Breton National Wildlife Refuge
Breton National Wildlife Refuge

Breton National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1904. The refuge, as shown in green in the map to the right, is in the Gulf of Mexico and is composed of the Chandeleur Islands and North and South Breton Islands.

These islands provide habitat for colonies of nesting and wading birds, seabirds, as well as wintering shorebirds and waterfowl and the shallow bay waters around the islands provide excellent habitat for many species of fish. Twenty-three species of seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl use the refuge extensively and include the brown pelican, laughing gull, royal, Caspian, sandwich terns, redhead and lesser scaup. Other wildlife found on the refuge includes nutria, rabbits, raccoons, and loggerhead sea turtles. Endangered or threatened species include the brown pelican, least tern, and piping plover.


Refuge Area and Class I Designation

  • In 1975, Congress designated most of Breton National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and "unimpaired" for future generations.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Breton Wilderness Area by designating it as a Class I air quality area. As a Class I area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager (FLM) of the Breton Wilderness Area, the responsibility to protect the air quality and natural resources of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affect Breton including onshore industry, power plants, car emissions, offshore oil and gas development, and marine traffic.
  • FWS is working cooperatively with the States of Louisiana, Mississippi , Alabama , the Minerals Management Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and onshore and offshore industry to reduce air pollution emissions and protect the air quality and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) of Breton NWR.
  • If the Breton Wilderness Area is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values will be threatened or even lost, as has happened along much of the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect these special wilderness islands for future generations.


Learn more about air quality at Breton


FWS monitors visibility conditions at Breton in partnership with the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program, which measures fine airborne particles responsible for visibility impairment. Within this website are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Breton NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area.

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Additional Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Breton NWR Website
Breton NWR 300km Radius Map (PDF 655KB)

Last updated: November 8, 2012