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National and State Organizations Celebrate the 100-Year Anniversary of Breton National Wildlife Refuge



June 25, 2004

Byron Fortier, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 985-882-2025, Cell: 504-722-1105
Kyla Hastie, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 770-329-1697
John Bianchi, National Audubon Society: 212-979-3026
Angelica Contreras, America’s WETLAND: 202-387-8550


America’s second Refuge
is only refuge President Theodore Roosevelt ever visited.

(New Orleans, LA) - Today, President Theodore Roosevelt’s great-grandson Theodore Roosevelt IV, Audubon Society’s Robert Perciasepe, former Louisiana Governor John M. Parker’s grandson Blanc Parker, and Sidney Coffee from the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities returned to Breton National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to remember and celebrate Roosevelt’s historic 1915 expedition to the refuge.

A century ago, at the urging of the National Audubon Society, President Theodore Roosevelt established Breton as the nation’s second federal bird reservation – the precursor to the National Wildlife Refuges System. The refuge is celebrating its 100th birthday as it hosts a recreation of Roosevelt’s historic 1915 expedition to the refuge – the only national wildlife refuge Roosevelt is known to have visited.

In an informal ceremony, participants will celebrate Roosevelt’s conservation legacy and recognize the importance of Breton today in protecting Louisiana’s wetland resources. They will also walk the beaches and survey the endangered brown pelicans nesting on the islands, just as Roosevelt and company did in 1915.

“As President Roosevelt recognized 100 years ago, Breton Island represents the diversity of habitat that we are trying so desperately to protect and restore,” said Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. “I salute the efforts of the National Audubon Society in raising awareness of this important piece of coastal Louisiana and applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its refuge managers for preserving this pristine island for future generations.”

The June 1915 expedition to Breton is a little-known story. Roosevelt was the guest of Parker, a friend and political ally from New Orleans. Parker and Roosevelt were escorted on a five-day journey to Breton by members of the Audubon Society and the Louisiana Conservation Commission. Roosevelt wrote about his journey in an autobiography, “A Book Lover’s Holidays in The Open.”

“I was very glad to have seen this bird refuge,” wrote Roosevelt. “With care and protection the birds will increase and grow tamer and tamer, until it will be possible for any one to make trips among these reserves and refuges, and to see as much as we saw, at even closer quarters. No sight more beautiful and more interesting could be imagined.”

Despite shifting coastal sands and Gulf coastal storms, Breton today looks much like what Roosevelt saw when he tramped its shores. Breton’s estuarine marshes, barrier island beaches, dunes, and saltwater mudflats are home to a variety of wildlife, including the largest nesting colony of endangered Eastern brown pelicans – the state bird of Louisiana – in the eastern United States.

Encompassing some 5,000 acres of barrier islands in the Chandeleur chain off the eastern coast of Louisiana, Breton NWR is one of Louisiana’s 23 National Wildlife Refuges which protect over 540,000 acres of land. The waters surrounding Breton NWR provide some of Louisiana’s best commercial and recreational fishing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, the National Audubon Society and America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, to honor this momentous occasion.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological service 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, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

The America’s WETLAND campaign was launched by the State of Louisiana to gain support for its efforts to conserve and save coastal Louisiana. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetland protection as a key to economic growth. To find out more about America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, visit

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