Atchafalaya Basinkeeper is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the ecosystems within the Atchafalaya Basin. We are a Waterkeeper program under the Waterkeeper Alliance, which is a grass roots advocacy organization consisting of over 200 local Waterkeeper programs and dedicated to preserving and protecting YOUR water from polluters. Click here to join Atchafalaya Basinkeeper!

We are a permanent force to protect the Atchafalaya Basin's long term health and sustainability.

Our members and business sponsors also help make our work possible. Show that you care about Louisiana and Click Here to become a member or a Business Sponsor today!

A cypress-tupelo forest. Photo by Greg Guirard.

The Atchafalaya Basin: America's River of Trees
The Atchafalaya Basin is the basin of the Atchafalaya River, a 135-mile long natural distributary of the Mississippi River that empties into the Gulf of Mexico and is the only growing delta in Louisiana. The Atchafalaya Basin contains the largest contiguous bottomland hardwood forest in North America. The vast delta of the Atchafalaya River is prime wintering habitat for waterfowl. Situated at the mouth of North America's most important flyway, the Basin supports half of America’s migratory waterfowl, more than 300 bird species, and provides the most important habitat for neotropical migratory land birds and other birds of the Mississippi Flyway. The Basin includes some 1.4 million acres.

The Atchafalaya Basin can be divided into three distinct areas: the northern part composed of bottomland hardwood forest, the middle, composed of cypress-willow-tupelo swamps, and the lower, which contains freshwater and brackish marsh. The most ecologically important parts of the Atchafalaya Basin are 885,000 acres of forested wetlands, making this the largest river swamp in North America and 517,000 acres of marshland. The Atchafalaya Basin may be one of the last refuges for such endangered species as the Peregrine Falcon, the Florida Panther, Bachman’s Warbler and the Ivory Bill Woodpecker. About 100 species of fish, crawfish, shrimp and crabs support sport and commercial fishing, and feed birds, reptiles and mammals. Other animals that call the Atchafalaya home are the endangered Louisiana black bear, white tail deer, bobcat, coyote, alligator, beaver, nutria, mink, otter, musk rat, armadillo, fox and opossum. Overall, the Atchafalaya Basin is home to nine Federal and State listed endangered/threatened wildlife species, six endangered/threatened bird species, twenty nine rookeries, greater than forty mammalian species, over forty reptile species and more than twenty amphibian species. The Atchafalaya is also considered the most productive swamp in the world and is probably the most productive land in the Northern Hemisphere. It is considered three to five times more productive than the Everglades and the Okefenokee Swamp. The swamps and marshes in Louisiana are so productive that, until the fur industry collapsed about 15 years ago, Louisiana was the number one producer of fur in North America (US Wildlife Bureau, click here for article).

 A roseate sponnbill perching in the Atchafalaya Basin. Photo by Greg Guirard.

Threats to the Atchafalaya Basin:
  • Increased siltation is turning cypress-tupelo swamps into dry bottomland hardwood forests.
  • Oil field canals dredging has changed natural hydrology, accelerating siltation and creating water quality problems.
  • Lack of enforcement of environmental laws contributes to pollution, further degradation of wetlands and diminished mitigation for permitted activities.
  • Logging of remaining cypress-tupelo swamps started anew mainly to supply cypress mulch.

    A cypress-tupelo swamp devastated by logging. Photo by Dean Wilson.
  • Logging of bottomland hardwood forests continues even on public lands.
  • The Basin is mostly (over half) privately owned, which restricts public access and public use and decreases support for conservation.
  • Pollution from oil fields including oil waste and mercury pollution.
  • Littering by commercial and sport users of the Basin, towboat and oil workers impacts wildlife and scenery.

Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
P.O. Box 410
Plaquemine, LA 70765
cell: 225-685-9439
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