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Meet the Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge

The Board of Directors of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge welcome you to be a board member or to join us at board meetings. To learn more email us at

What Are the Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge?

The Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, Inc. is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the support, preservation and promotion of the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge and by extension, the entire National Wildlife Refuge System through programs and actions designed to increase public awareness, appreciation and responsible use of the refuge and understanding of its mission. In 2005, while waiting for the group’s 501C3 status, the Friends partnered with the Cajun Coast Tourist Bureau to help develop 250 miles of paddling trails. At that time, 56 miles of trails were on the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Those trails include the Black Bear, Wood Duck, Alligator, Bayou Portage, Franklin, and Yellow Bayou paddling trails. The Friends group worked closely with the tourist bureau to design maps of these trails which were placed on the Cajun Coast paddling trails website and brochures.

The Friends group received its 501C3 status in 2006 and began creating a hiking trail and defining paddling trails on the refuge. In 2010, the Friends of BTR created the first hiking trail, named the Palmetto Trail, with aid from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation who was the primary funder of the project. The Louisiana Hiking Club and the WalMart Foundation also provided seed funds towards the project. Volunteers from the Louisiana Hiking Club, Lafayette Paddle Club and the Chainsaw Gang all came together with the Friends group to build and complete the 2.5 mile trail. Since that time, the Friends group has blazed another three miles of hiking trails at two different locations. These still remain to be named. The Friends group has been active in promoting the refuge through Open House events where the public is invited to learn more about the refuge system and what it offers to them. We have also led canoe and hiking trips for the public throughout the year, each year, since the group began. These activities have attracted visitors from 40 different states and 15 different countries to explore our natural environment. We continue to reach out to attract additional local visitors to the refuge. The Friends of BTR also participate and support the annual Black Bear Festival which draws over 7,000 people a year to promote our mission to preserve and protect the Louisiana Black Bear and the Bayou Teche NWR.  The Bayou Teche NWR is the only refuge dedicated to protect the Louisiana black bears which are a threatened species.

Our current goals are to improve the current hiking trails in the refuge. Due to the fact that the trails are near a rural area, some roads are unmarked or not on maps.

About Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge

The 9,028 acre refuge, established in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana in 2001, is forested with bottomland hardwoods and cypress-gum forests.  The surrounding area includes oil and gas wells and canals. The refuge is part of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges. It is home to the threatened Louisiana Black Bear and the American alligator. Wildlife species of interest include wading birds, ducks and bald eagles. For information on the refuge visit


Directions to the Refuge: The refuge is located at the south edge of Franklin, LA. Franklin is approximately 55 miles from Lafayette, LA and 108 miles from New Orleans, LA. The refuge is accessible by vehicle, boat, and on foot. From Hwy. 90 take the Franklin exit (LA 3211). At the four way stop sign, take a right. At the three way stop sign, go straight. After you cross the bridge, turn left onto Willow Street. The refuge office is on your right. The address is 1725 Willow Street, Franklin, LA 70538.

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