TEXAS GEMS - McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge
McFaddin NWR is a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior. It is part of the Texas Chenier Plain Refuge Complex, which also includes the Anahuac, Texas Point and Moody NWRs.
Date Site Established:
May 1, 1980
Date When Information Last Updated:
Location: Texas, Jefferson and Chambers counties, 29?, 49.00’N 94?,
Areal extent of site 56,181 acres
Area of Influence:
Sabine Lake, Sabine River, Neches River, and Taylor’s Bayou watersheds
Ecological and Cultural Characteristics
Coastal marsh (fresh, intermediate, brackish), coastal prairie (non-saline and saline), and coastal woodlands
Bald Eagle (T), Brown Pelican (E), Piping Plover (T)
In addition, several State-listed T&E species and Federal and State Species of Conservation Concern occur on the McFaddin NWR.
Wetland habitats provide important wintering and migration stopover habitat
for migratory birds including Central Flyway waterfowl, shorebirds, wading
birds and marsh and waterbirds. Upland habitats including prairie and woodlands
are important to many neotropical/nearctic and temperate landbirds, including
several sensitive/declining species. The mottled duck is an important resident
waterfowl species for which the refuge provides habitat year-round for
nesting, brood-rearing, molting and wintering.
Coastal marshes serve as nursery areas for many important commercial and recreational fish and shellfish species including white and brown shrimp, blue crab, red drum, flounder and speckled sea trout.
Tidal marshes are important foraging habitats for many important commercial and recreational Gulf of Mexico fish and shellfish species.
Refuge habitats provide important wintering and migration stop-over habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, marsh and waterbirds, and neotropical/nearctic and temperate landbirds.
McFaddin NWR is comprised primarily low-lying coastal marsh lying below the 5 foot above MSL contour. Biogeographically, the refuge is located within the Chenier Plain region of southwestern Louisiana and southeast Texas. The Refuge’s southern boundary consists of over 15 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Remnant dune/beach systems exist along the coastline, although much has been lost through erosion and shoreline retreat, leaving only a low-lying washover terrace. The Refuge’s North Unit, located north of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal, protects a portion of the largest remaining coastal freshwater marsh in Texas.
Coastal marsh habitats provide important functions of improving water quality in the Sabine Lake and Galveston Bay estuarine ecosystems, providing flood control benefits, and buffering inland habitats from tropical storm-generated tidal surges. In addition, marshes are extremely biologically productive and diverse and provide detrital input to Sabine Lake, Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, which is the basis for the estuarine food chain.
Uniqueness of Natural Community:
Refuge lands are in conservation status in perpetuity. As examples of the exceptional biological diversity found on the refuge, over 250 avian species and over 400 plant species have been documented.
Archaeological and Cultural Significance:
The refuge contains several shell middens of Paleo-Indian origin.
The ‘McFaddin Beach’ site (41JF50) is believed to lie offshore of the Refuge’s Gulf shoreline. This site has yielded more Clovis points than any other in Texas, as well as many other artifacts including Pleistocene mammal fossils.
Current and Potential Use of the Site
Existing or Potential Educational Use:
The Refuge hosts several groups on educational tours of the refuge each year, and in 2003 hosted a day-long family-oriented educational event called Marsh Madness, which was attended by over 300 people. This event will be held annually in the future. Researchers from academia (often as part of graduate studies) and the scientific community regularly conduct special ecological, geological and hydrological studies on the refuge.
Annual visitation to the McFaddin NWR exceeds 100,000 visitors.
Wildlife observation and photography
Recreational fishing and crabbing
Hiking, canoeing and kayaking
Beach recreational uses
Controlled livestock grazing
Oil and gas production
The general public enjoys recreational uses described above.
Commercial uses are administered under Special Use Permit. All commercial activities are administered as management tools, with the exception of oil and gas production. Private third-party interests hold mineral rights underlying the Refuge, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must allow reasonable access to valid leaseholders to explore for and develop these minerals.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior
Andy Loranger, Refuge Complex Project Leader
Site is a National Wildlife Refuge, a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
McFaddin NWR is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with
a primary establishment purpose of protecting and managing habitat
Management is also aimed at conserving native biological diversity
and ecosystem functions, while providing the general public with
recreational and educational opportunities and the scientific community
with research opportunities.
Water level and salinity management, exotic/invasive species control, prescribed burning, controlled livestock grazing, and restoration of native habitats (wetlands, prairie, and woodlands) are among habitat management activities employed. Biological program activities include systematic surveys of fish, wildlife and plant resources and special studies and research.
Existing Monitoring Activities:
The Refuge is currently owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior.
Management needs (conservation, monitoring and research) on the Refuge are met through implementation of habitat management, habitat restoration, and biological programs by refuge staff and through partnerships with a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, organizations, academia, industry and the general public.
Threats to Ecological Integrity:
Relative sea level rise (eustatic sea level rise plus land subsidence) is a major threat and is resulting in land loss through shoreline erosion (shoreline retreat) and conversion of emergent marshes to open water (excessive inundation/submergence). Ongoing shoreline retreat along the Gulf of Mexico is resulting in a rapid loss of valuable coastal habitats including emergent estuarine marshes and coastal prairies. Hydrological alterations have decreased freshwater and sediment inflows and increased saltwater intrusion to coastal marshes, resulting in loss of the historically coastal freshwater wetlands while converting the marsh system to a more brackish regime. This has resulted in a loss of native biological diversity and productivity. Loss of freshwater inflows to Sabine Lake due to future upstream water demands (reservoir construction, water diversions) and increasing saltwater intrusion as navigation channels are deepened and widened pose significant near term threats. Exotic/invasive species including Chinese tallow, Giant Salvinia, and water hyacinth pose significant threats to native habitats and fish and wildlife. Threats from environmental contaminants include affects to aquatic resources from accidental spills of petroleum and petrochemical products in the Gulf and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and point and non-point source pollution (organochlorine compounds, excessive nutrients, heavy metals, sediments, solid waste) from upstream sources.
Addressing coastal land loss/erosion through ongoing erosion abatement projects and studies is currently a major focus of state and federal agencies with coastal management responsibilities, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge is being actively managed to conserve the historic continuum of fresh to saline coastal marsh habitats by managing salinities, water levels and providing freshwater inflows where feasible. New research and studies are also focusing on developing management actions to promote vertical accretion of marsh surface elevations to keep up with the rate of relative sea level rise. Shoreline erosion abatement projects, which combine restoration of emergent marshes with rock breakwater and/or oyster reef construction are being implemented. The refuge’s Integrated Pest Management program is implemented to control and monitor exotic/invasive species. Spill contingency plans are in place and coordinated with local, State and Federal spill response agencies, and contaminants monitoring is periodically conducted in refuge waters, soils and fish and wildlife.
Sources of Information
Specific information on Anahuac NWR can be obtained by contacting Andy Loranger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 278, Anahuac, TX 77514. Telephone: 409-267-3337. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org