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University » Public Lands » Big Branch Marsh NWR » Big Branch Marsh NWR Description

Big Branch Marsh NWR Description:

Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1994 to protect, enhance, and manage a valuable wetland ecosystem that is threatened by urban expansion from the city of New Orleans. Its over 15,000 acres comprise the largest undeveloped natural area along the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Within it are interfaces of sandy beaches, offshore grass beds, marshes, hardwood hammocks, and pine flatwoods.

This diversity of habitats supports a wide variety of wildlife species. The refuge attracts shorebirds, wading birds, neotropical migratory birds, and wintering and resident waterfowl. A variety of mammal species, including game species such as white-tailed deer and swamp rabbits, furbearers such as mink, otter, raccoon, muskrat, nutria, and many other non-game species are found here in abundance.

The marshes provide critical spawning and nursery habitat for a number of fresh and saltwater species. Shrimp, crabs, redfish, speckled trout, largemouth bass, catfish, bream, and other species can all be found within the refuge at least part of the year. In additions to providing habitat for a natural diversity of wildlife associated with Big Branch Marsh NWR, refuge managers also seek to provide a variety of opportunities for public outdoor recreation and education.

The primary objective of National Wildlife Refuges is to provide habitat for the conservation and protection of all species of fish and wildlife. Harvesting surplus animals is one tool used to maintain wildlife populations at a level compatible with the environment, provide wholesome recreational opportunities, and permit the use of a valuable renewable resource.

Both hunting and fishing are permitted on Big Branch Marsh NWR, subject to regulations contained in the refuge’s hunting and fishing brochure. This brochure is available at the headquarters, by mail, or on the web at and contains the required hunting permit. Other recreational users should be aware of hunting seasons on the refuge. Visitors are encouraged to wear hunter orange for safety during hunting seasons. State fishing and hunting licenses are required to fish or hunt on the refuge.

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