The Baton Rouge Audubon Society's Sanctuaries provide:
Protection of diminishing habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife with special emphasis on Neotropical migrants;
visitors with the opportunity for nature study such as birding, butterfly watching and photography; and
a means to promote wildlife education, research, and conservation in cooperation with others including the residents and organizations of parishes in which the properties are located.
The Baton Rouge Audubon Society Peveto Woods Sanctuary currently encompasses approximately 40 acres and is located along the Louisiana coast in Cameron Parish. This site was the first chenier sanctuary for migratory birds established in Louisiana.
Coastal woods were called cheniers by early French settlers. The word means oak place, so-called because live oak was the predominant tree. Cheniers are ancient beach ridges, formed by wave action, offshore currents, and the influence of the Mississippi River. They are a unique feature of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, found primarily along the Louisiana coast.
Baton Rouge Audubon Society is proud to have preserved this unique habitat. Birders and other nature lovers have visited the Sanctuary from 50 states and 20 foreign countries. Although the Sanctuary is owned and operated by the Society, we are dependent on private donations for maintenance costs and land purchases. Because of the generosity of private individuals and groups, BRAS has been able to maintain and add to this important site.
To get there from Interstate 10 drive south on Hwy 27 at Sulphur, LA until it intersects Hwy. 82 at Holly beach (33 mi.); go west (right) for 8.5 miles on Hwy 82; look for the BRAS Sanctuary sign on the left, turn left and follow the road to the sanctuary on the left.
The sanctuary is unmanned. No admission is charged. It is accessible from dawn to dusk every day, 365 days of the year. There are a few picnic tables and a pavilion for seating and shade. There is a port-o-let on site. Please "pack it in, pack it out" and do not leave trash onsite as there is no trash pickup.
Peveto Woods Sanctuary Louisiana lies in the center of the flight path of migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico. An enormous number of migratory songbirds pass over the Cameron Parish coast each spring and fall. In their studies of bird migration, ornithologists George Lowery and Robert Newman found that in the spring when the wind is from the south and the weather is clear, most migrants pass over the coastal areas to land miles inland. However, when the wind is from the north, the birds tire and barely make it to the first land they sight. This makes the Louisiana coastal woodlands critical to the survival of tiny songbirds in need of rest, food and cover. As many as two million birds use our sanctuary each year.
Since 1984, scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi have used the sanctuary as a site for research on migrant songbirds. Their findings further document the importance of this habitat to songbirds. When birds reach the Louisiana coast, their energy reserves are exhausted. Without coastal woodlands for a resting and feeding area and for protection from predators and weather, some portion of millions of songbirds which nest in the United States and Canada probably would not survive. Recent evidence indicates that the sanctuary is used by the migratory Monarch butterfly, as well as many other butterflies.
Peveto beach woods, once a tract of about 50 acres, became popular among ornithology students and birders, especially during the spring and fall migratory periods, when large numbers of trans-Gulf migrants appear in the woodlands. In the 1970's and early 1980's, the tract began to shrink as various owners began selling off sections of the property. In 1978, the owners partitioned the property and half of it was sold to developers for a residential subdivision. In 1984, a small group of concerned birders decided to try to save what was left.
In August 1984, through the generosity of Mr. Robert W. Holleyman of Lake Charles and Dr. Carlton Sheely, III, of Baton Rouge, the first tract of six acres was purchased. Several small parcels were added in the following two years. In July 1989, the Henshaw Sanctuary was created with the sale and donation of the unsold portions of the subdivision by Mr. H. Marsh Henshaw, III, of Sulphur. Subsequent additions of several undeveloped lots came in August 1990 and February 1992. In 1993, 27 acres were added on the north side reaching up to La. Hwy. 82. In 1994, we filled in one of the sand pits and replanted about six acres with 1,600 live oak seedlings. Restoration projects of various kinds have been ongoing ever since.
The address is 45141 Manny Guitreau Rd, Prairieville, Louisiana. Please note that GPS will not take you to the correct location. Use address 45138 Manny Guitreau Rd. for GPS; the sanctuary is directly across the road from this house.
Directions: from the traffic circle at the intersection of LA 431 and LA 42, go south on LA 431 and turn immediately past the traffic circle on to Manny Guitreau Rd. Look for the parking area across the road from 45138 Manny Guitreau Rd. The parking area for the sanctuary is identified with temporary fencing with green posts and yellow rope. Signage to come. Please look for sanctuary boundary signs to avoid trespassing on neighboring properties.
Parking: please park in the grassy area in the front of the sanctuary between the temporary fencing (green T-posts with yellow rope). Park head-in to the fence to allow parking on both sides.
Hours of operation and facilities The sanctuary is unmanned. No admission is charged. It is accessible from dawn to dusk every day, 365 days a year. There are no bathrooms on site (closest bathroom is at Fred’s on the River convenience store/restaurant to the north across the traffic circle). Please “pack it in, pack it out” and do not leave trash on site as there is no trash pickup.
Trails As of February 2022, trails are marked with surveyor tape on trees. Please refer to the preliminary trail map below. These trails are extremely primitive; there are no boardwalks and there are tripping hazards, mud, and wet spots. Knee-high boots are recommended!
Features The trail designated on the map as the Legacy Tree trail leads you from the Main trail to the southeast first to a legacy cypress tree. This tree was dated by the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy organization and is estimated to be between 400 and 600 years old. There are several other majestic cypress in the swamp areas of the sanctuary.
If you continue on the trail, you will find the lone Live Oak on the property. This ancient tree is standing on a bit of raised land, which is undoubtedly the reason it has survived in the swampy environment. At approximately 23 feet in circumference, calculations estimate the tree to be at least 350 years old.
On the west side of the sanctuary stands a unique feature; a true twin oak with a double trunk that starts from the base and soars 100 feet or more in the air.
There is a good sized pond on the southern border of the property that often features Wood Ducks and even wading birds.
Birders are encouraged to create ebird lists for their visits to the sanctuary. Please save the lists to the designated hotspot: Baton Rouge Audubon Amite River Wildlife Sanctuary.
Click here to explore the most recent and historic list of birds seen at this location: