“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Henderson in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)

Atchafalaya Floodway


— Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail —

Atchafalaya Floodway Marker image. Click for full size.
February 16, 2018
1. Atchafalaya Floodway Marker
Annual flooding in the Acthafalaya Basin provides an ideal crawfish habitat. Today, most of Louisiana's crawfish production comes from farms, but the Basin still leads in the production of wild-caught crawfish.

The Atchafalaya Basin is one of the most extensive river-floodplain systems in the world. It is also an important floodway system made up of three individual sections—the West Atchafalaya Floodway, the Morganza Floodway and the Lower Atchafalaya Floodway—all which contribute to protecting millions of Americans. The system is surrounded by levees that direct water from the Mississippi River through the Basin to the Gulf of Mexico. It regulates the combined flow of the Red and Mississippi rivers down the Atchafalaya River at the Old River Control Structure near Simmesport and was designed to handle half of the Project Design Flood, the maximum probable Mississippi River flood.

The levees that surround this section of the Atchafalaya Basin (the Lower Atchafalaya Floodway) are about 15 miles apart and were built shortly after the Mississippi River Flood of 1927. Their construction forever changed the Basin,

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both inside and outside the floodway. Prior to this time, a handful of year-round communities dotted the area, and permanent residents lived off of its abundant resources. After the levees were built, communities within the floodway became subject to higher and more frequent floods. Most residents eventually moved outside the levees to places like Henderson along the Basin’s western edge.

These changes also forced residents—many who previously made their living by subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping—into different jobs once they moved to higher ground. Annual flooding of the Atchafalaya swamps and Basin with river water provided an ideal crawfish habitat, and the region became central to the growth of this commercial industry. Today, most of Louisiana’s crawfish production is derived from farms, but the Basin still leads in the production of Louisiana’s wild-caught crawfish, and the residents of Henderson play a vital role in bringing this food source to market.

Though few people live within its levees now, the Atchafalaya Basin is a biodiverse wetland, a source of livelihood for many fishermen and hunters, and a recreation destination for others. It is host to the largest block of forested wetlands in the lower Mississippi River valley, the largest block of coastal cypress forest in the U.S., and is a habitat for more than 85 species of fish and

Atchafalaya Floodway Marker image. Click for full size.
February 16, 2018
2. Atchafalaya Floodway Marker
almost 300 species of resident and migratory birds. Still, there are many challenges to sustaining this area, including hydrology effects, sedimentation, invasive species and resource extraction. Development has also greatly affected the wetlands here, calling for a delicate (but difficult to achieve) balance between protecting populations and preserving this vital landscape.

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This site’s geology/geomorphology: Holocene crevasse splay deposits of Bayou Teche occupation of Mississippi River.
Erected by State of Louisiana and National Park Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail series list.
Location. 30° 18.912′ N, 91° 47.223′ W. Marker is in Henderson, Louisiana, in St. Martin Parish. Marker can be reached from Henderson Levee Road east of Main Street (State Highway 352), on the right when traveling north. Must cross over levee to reach marker. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1009 Henderson Levee Road, Breaux Bridge LA 70517, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Atchafalaya River (approx. 4.2 miles away); Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge

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(approx. 4.2 miles away); Louis Hebert (approx. 4½ miles away); Stephanie-Martin Duralde House (approx. 6.1 miles away); a different marker also named Atchafalaya River (approx. 6½ miles away); The Valery Thibodeaux House (approx. 6.9 miles away); The Pellerin-Chauffe House (approx. 7 miles away); Poché's (approx. 7 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on February 19, 2018. It was originally submitted on February 19, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 166 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 19, 2018.

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Jun. 7, 2023