Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

Big Branch Marsh, located in Lacombe, Louisiana, was established in 1994 with the goal of preserving the declining wetlands from the ever expanding New Orleans. Today the refuge consists of about 18,000 acres with habitats ranging from offshore grass beds, marshes, hardwood hammocks, and pine flatwoods. The refuge is boarded by Lake Pontchartrain, and the waters of its marshes are classified as brackish or intermediate marshes, meaning there is less salt in the marshes than is found in the Gulf of Mexico, but that the water is also not considered freshwater. These marshes thus, are a critical spawning and nursery for many species from both fresh and saltwater habitats.

With such a diverse habitat, the Big Branch Marsh provides a home to a wide diversity of plant and animal communities. Deer, mink, rabbit, otter, raccoon, muskrat, and nutria can all be found within the refuge; along with many species of birds and waterfowl including the Brown Pelican, Louisiana’s state bird. The waters also provide excellent habitat for the American Alligator and the Big Branch Marsh has worked extensively on protecting the Red-cockaded woodpecker, a species that had declined by about 99% since the time of European settlers due to habitat loss.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 30.256972 Longitude: -89.864541

Recreational Opportunities

Big Branch Marsh has many opportunities for visitors. The refuge is open 7 days a week during daylight hours.  Visitors can take part in activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education. Lake Road provides an excellent spot for fishing and crabbing for anglers of all kinds. And hunters can take aim at deer and the seasonal migratory waterfowl.  Hikers can take a stroll down the Boy Scout Road Trail, a small easy walk down the boardwalk, or they are welcome to take a 4 mile round-trip hike around the Bayou.

The visitor center has many hands-on activities for kids to learn more about the natural areas around them. Kids can even check out a Junior Ranger Kit to help them better explore the refuge and it’s many inhabitants. Within the visitor center there is also a bookstore and gift shop, open Thursday-Saturday, for visitors of all ages to check out after spending the day enjoying nature and exploring the refuge.

Seasons Accessible

Big Branch Marsh is open year round.

Fees

An annual public use permit is required for all hunting and fishing on Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

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