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Cat Island
National Wildlife Refuge

St. Francisville, LA   
E-mail: catisland@fws.gov
Phone Number: (601) 442-6696
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Visitors to Cat Island NWR can view the National Champion baldcypress tree. The tree has a height of 83 feet, a diameter of 17 feet, and a circumference of 56 feet.
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Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge

Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge was established on October 27, 2000 as the 526th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is located near the town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, which is 30 miles north of Baton Rouge. The refuge was established to conserve, restore, and manage native forested wetland habitats for migratory birds, aquatic resources, and endangered and threatened plants and animals. Additionally, it was created to encourage the use of volunteers and facilitate partnerships among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local communities, and conservation organizations to promote public awareness of resources of the refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Click here to download a PDF with hunting regulations.

Getting There . . .

Driving Directions to the Headquarters

From U.S. Highway 61 in St. Francisville take Commerce Street into town. The office is located at 5720 Commerce St. It is co-located with the St. Francisville Inn, which is next to the park and across the street from the Ford dealership.

Driving Directions to the Refuge

From U.S. Highway 61 go north of St. Francisville to Highway 66 and turn left (west toward Angola). After 1.5 miles, turn left on Solitude Road. Go about 3.5 miles and turn right at the refuge sign. Go another 1.5 miles to the refuge entrance. Enjoy your visit to Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge!

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge is along the southern-most unleveed portion of the lower Mississippi River. The refuge is home to many fish, wildlife and plant resources. Some wildlife found in the area include white-tailed deer, bobcat, mink, river otter, wild turkey, black-crowned night-heron, wood duck, blue-winged teal, woodcock, solitary sandpiper, greater yellowlegs, prothonotary warbler, northern parula, pileated woodpecker, green treefrog, and red-eared slider.

Most of the habitat on the refuge is composed of overcup oak, bitter pecan, hackberry, green ash, nuttall oak, sweetgum, water tupelo and baldcypress trees. Many of the baldcypress trees are estimated to be over 500 years old. In fact, the National Champion baldcypress, which is also the largest tree of any species east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is located on the refuge.

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In 2000, about 9,500 acres of forested wetlands were purchased by The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana for eventual purchase by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The transfer of the property to the Service was finished in 2003. Funding was provided through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Congressionally-approved acquisition boundary is 36,500 acres.

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Management Activities
The refuge is accessible by vehicle when the Mississippi River gauge reading in Baton Rouge is less than about 18'. The refuge is completely inundated by the river each year, generally between January and June. A series of gates have been installed along the road, which allow varying degrees of access as the Mississipi River rises and falls. No access to the National Champion baldcypress tree is available once the Mississippi River gauge in Baton Rouge reaches 20'. Access to the parking areas in the vicinity of Blackfork Bayou ends at 26', and all vehicular access to the refuge ends at 31'. For gauge data, refer to http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/forecast/rva.shtml. Once the river rises, the refuge can be accessed by boat only from the Mississippi River. There are no boat launches on the refuge.