Site is comprised of those lands making up the Chandeleur chain of islands located in the Gulf of Mexico on the eastern boundary of Louisiana. The site includes the lands comprising Breton NWR. The area supported a large and diverse barrier island community of beaches, vegetated dunes, overwash fans, back barrier brackish/saline emergent tidal marsh, and seagrasses prior to the passage of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina reduced the land area approximately 80% and reduced elevation and vegetated cover on remaining land parcels. Remaining remnants are subject to accelerated erosion from tides and wave fetch. Future of this area is uncertain, with the USFWS currently working with USGS to determine sediment budgets and feasibility of long term restoration. Remaining areas are comprised primarily of tidal emergent marsh dominated by Spartina alterniflora with scattered clumps of black mangrove. Historically the site provided important breeding areas for colonial seabirds including brown pelican, sandwich terns, royal terns, and black skimmers, and was an important wintering area for redheads.
The area is extremely important for wintering waterfowl, wading birds, secretive marsh birds, and shorebirds. It provides important nesting and brood rearing habitat for mottled ducks, secretive marsh birds and wading birds. Shrub dominated spoil banks and willow dominated areas provide important migratory stopover habitat for many neotropical migrants. NOTE: Counts listed below under observations represent Post Hurricane Katrina numbers on Breton National Wildlife Refuge at the time of survey, thus representing only a partial count of the entire area.
The major threat is: 1) Direct impacts and land loss from erosional forces such as tides, wave fetch, storms and hurricanes.
Chandeleur Islands IBA is mostly privately owned lands and state waters. The Breton National Wildlife Refuge is owned by the Federal government.
Lands are managed as a National Wildlife Refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Oil and gas development is present in surrounding waters in substantial numbers.