BRETON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
BRETON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
215 Offshore Shipyard Road
Venice, Louisiana 70577
Breton National Wildlife Refuge is the second oldest refuge in the country and will be 100 years old on October 4th, 2004. President Theodore Roosevelt heard about the destruction of birds and their eggs on Chandeleur and Breton Islands in 1904 and soon afterward created Breton NWR. He visited the Island in June of 1915, this is the only refuge Roosevelt ever visited. The island has been the site of a Lighthouse Station (still in existance) a quarantine station, a small fishing village and even an oil production facility. Ultimatly all these man-made structures are destroyed by nature and only the birds remain. Fisherman, birdwatchers and even artists such as Walter Inglis Anderson visit the island to enjoy its bounties.
ENDANGERED & THREATENED SPECIES ON THE REFUGE: Brown Pelican, Least Tern, and Piping Plover
OTHER WILDLIFE SPECIES: Breton NWR provides habitat for colonies of nesting wading birds and seabirds, as well as wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. Twenty-three species of seabirds and shorebirds frequently use the refuge, and 13 species nest on the various islands. The most abundant nesters are brown pelicans, laughing gulls, and royal, Caspian, and sandwich terns. Waterfowl winter near the refuge islands and use the adjacent shallows, marshes, and sounds for feeding and for protection during inclement weather. Redheads and lesser scaup account for the majority of waterfowl use. Other wildlife species found on the refuge include nutria, rabbits, raccoons, and loggerhead sea turtles.
HABITAT DESCRIPTION: The dominant vegetation on Breton NWR are black mangrove, groundsel bush, and wax myrtle. Shallow bay waters around the islands support beds of manatee grass, shoal grass, turtle grass, and widgeon grass.
Established in 1904, Breton NWR is the second oldest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The objectives of the refuge are to (1) provide sanctuary for nesting and wintering seabirds, (2) protect and preserve the wilderness character of the islands, and (3) provide sandy beach habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Breton NWR includes Breton Island and all of Chandeleur Islands in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. The barrier islands that make up Breton NWR are remnants of the Mississippi River's former St. Bernard Delta, which was active about 2,000 years ago. These barrier islands are dynamic--their sizes and shapes constantly are altered by tropical storms, wind, and tidal action. The area above mean high tide is approximately 6,923 acres. Elevations on Breton NWR range from sea level to 19 feet above mean sea level. Early literature on Breton and the Chandeleur Islands mentions trees and a generally higher elevation than exists today. In 1915, several families and a school were located on Breton Island. Prior to the hurricane of that year, the island was evacuated. The hurricane destroyed the settlement, and it was never rebuilt. All of the Federally-owned lands, except for North Breton Island, in Breton NWR became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System on January 3, 1975 (Public Law 93-632). North Breton was excluded because an oil facility, owned by Kerr-McGee, Inc., was located on that island. The Breton Wilderness, according to the Clean Air Act, is listed as a Class I Prevention of Significant Deterioration Area. The only visible improvement within the wilderness is the Chandeleur lighthouse on the north end of the islands; the lighthouse was constructed before the turn of the century. While still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, the lighthouse is considered to be an historic structure, and as such, is compatible with the wilderness designation.
FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES OVERVIEW