Bayou Teche refuge gets $9.9M federal grant

The Migratory Bird Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, will award $9.93 million in conservation funding to the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre.

The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, established in 2001, is located at the south edge of Franklin and encompasses 9,028 acres in St. Mary Parish, its website says.

This grant will support conservation efforts for wetland habitats and waterfowl populations while supporting local economies and recreational traditions such as hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. The wetlands also provide flood control benefits and mitigate coastal erosion, the release stated.

The funds were primarily raised through the sale of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.” Duck Stamps – while required by waterfowl hunters as an annual license – are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts, and fans of national wildlife refuges who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation.

“The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge is significant to the culture and heritage of South Louisiana,” Higgins said in the release.

“The wildlife refuge serves as a natural barrier and flood control structure, which must be maintained. This funding will help preserve the sportsman’s traditions that our state is so well-known for while also conserving local wildlife and their habitats,” he said.

Objectives of the refuge are to provide habitat and refuge for the Louisiana black bear, provide the highest quality migratory bird habitat possible, allow compatible public use such as nature trails, recreational boating, fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and photography, promote research and restoration of the Louisiana black bear and provide opportunity for environmental education and interpretation, according to the refuge website.

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