Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Inc. (Plaquemine, LA)


  • Name:Cara Leverett
  • Title:Staff Scientist/ Executive Assistant

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Inc.
  • Address:P.O. Box 410
    Plaquemine, LA 70765
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:225-685-9439

Organization Web

User Web and Email


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  • Mission:
  • Atchafalaya Basinkeeper (ABK) is dedicated to protecting and restoring the environmental health and productivity of the ecosystems within the Atchafalaya Basin and Louisiana's coastal wetland forests for today and for future generations.

    We work to accomplish this goal using a multi-faceted plan, which includes monitoring for violations, enforcing federal environmental regulations, and education and outreach.

    The main thing that distinguishes ABK from other environmental organizations is our work to ensure that our federal environmental laws are enforced, which is essential to protecting Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. With regular monitoring flights, ABK is the only group in Louisiana watching for illegal cypress-tupelo logging. Our monitoring efforts are largely responsible for stopping illegal cypress logging in coastal Louisiana, protecting over 500,000 acres of irreplaceable coastal cypress forests.

  • Overview:
  • ABK's integrity, honesty, and our commitment to our mission make us extremely efficient and effective in reaching our conservation goals. We place the highest priority on protecting existing wetlands from being permanently degraded or destroyed. We achieve this by challenging unnecessary permits, stopping unpermitted wetland development, and monitoring to ensure that authorized activities comply with permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). We identify and document unauthorized activities by monitoring from air and water and by responding to citizen reports. We work closely with the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West (the only commercial fishing group in the Basin), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Enforcement Department of the Corps of Engineers; we partner with many other environmental groups in Louisiana. We are also working to improve the Corps’ policies with regard to enforcing the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. Since 2004, ABK has preserved more acres of wetlands than any other group in North America.

    Under its Monitoring and Enforcement Program ABK reviews ALL permit applications for work in wetlands throughout coastal Lousiana, challenges any unnecessary permit for work that would further degrade or destroy Atchafalaya wetlands, monitors by air and water to identify unpermitted activities such as wetland development or logging and to ensure that authorized activities comply with Corps-issued permits, addresses the devastating problem of after-the-fact permits, and responds to citizen complaints.

    Through its Swamp Shield Campaign, part of the Monitoring and Enforcement Program, ABK is working at the local, regional, and national levels to protect Louisiana's forested wetlands. We confront illegal and destructive forestry practices by monitoring for cypress logging in all of the major forested basins in coastal Louisiana, including the Atchafalaya, Maurepas, Barataria-Terrebonne, and Pearl River. By gathering and reporting information from the air, ground, and water, we facilitate the enforcement actions of the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding illegal and unsustainable cypress logging. We have a long-standing working relationship with both agencies.

    As a last resort, ABK takes legal action to protect and restore the environmental health of Atchafalaya wetlands and Louisiana's cypress forests. ABK is actively pursuing eight legal actions—two related to illegal logging, two related to illegal roads and dams, two against the Corps for issuing after-the-fact permits to protect illegal developers, one regarding the illegal development of wetlands in Fisher Lake, and one related to an ongoing oil spill.

    Funding is essential for ABK to continue its programs, which are largely responsible for protecting Louisiana’s coastal cypress forests and for conserving and restoring the Atchafalaya Basin, which boasts the world’s largest wild crawfish harvest, a boon to fishermen, processors, and consumers as well as a ready food source for birds, mammals, and fish. The Atchafalaya’s beauty and productivity make it one of the wonders of America, for it contains the most important habitat for migratory birds in the northern hemisphere and the most significant ecosystem for the French-speaking Cajun fishing culture. Seafood produced here provides countless jobs for fishermen and processors and fuels restaurant, tourism, and recreation industries.

  • History:
  • The Atchafalaya Basin is the more than 1.4-million-acre basin of the Atchafalaya River, containing North America’s most productive and biodiverse forested wetlands and including 885,000 acres of forest and 517,000 acres of marshland. Located in South-central Louisiana, the Basin houses the largest remaining contiguous forested wetlands in North America. These forests provide critical habitat to about 300 bird species, over 40 species of mammals, more than 40 reptilian species, over 20 amphibian species and they are important wintering grounds for migratory birds. As habitat to about 100 species of fish and shellfish, the Atchafalaya Basin is culturally and commercially important, especially for the French-speaking Cajun fishermen of this area. The food and lifeways associated with the Cajun culture arose from life in the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin. This area is fished by hundreds of Cajuns, many of whom are losing their ability to earn a livelihood because their fisheries are declining due to the deteriorating health of the swamps and bayous in which they work.

    In addition to its importance for wildlife habitat and commercial fishing, Louisiana’s coastal wetland forests provide hurricane protection for many of our communities. Baldcypress trees, with their buttressed trunks and deep root systems, are hurricane resistant. They are literally Louisiana’s first line of defense, with the ability to drastically reduce storm surges and flooding in many low-lying areas.

    Louisiana’s virgin cypress-tupelo forests were first clear-cut beginning shortly after the Civil War and ending about 1930, and most of them never regenerated. Today, our cypress trees are between 90 and 130 years old and it will take several centuries for them to grow to maturity. The promise of quick profit took precedence over long-term consequences, and heavy logging for cypress mulch began in the year 2000. By the year 2006, loggers were cutting down up to 20,000 acres of cypress-tupelo forest per year, according to the Louisiana Forestry Association. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality estimated the total logged area at over 85,000 acres, which is about 10% of Louisiana’s remaining 800,000 acres of coastal cypress forests. Whole trees were being shredded into garden mulch, and most cypress forests are not expected to regenerate. According to the findings of the Science Working Group (April 2005), most of our cypress forests will never grow back if logged today. This is because baldcypress seeds need dry periods to germinate, and when high water levels return each spring, small cypress trees cannot survive entire submergence for more than 45 days. Levee systems throughout coastal Louisiana have profoundly altered the hydrology of our wetlands including those within the Atchafalaya Basin, making cypress regeneration a failure in most cases due to annual springtime flooding. In the few areas where hydrology is suitable for cypress regeneration, herbivory by animals, including the invasive nutria, and competition by exotic plants like Chinese tallow make cypress regrowth nearly impossible. No other species of tree provides the environmental values that cypress and tupelo furnish.

    Cypress logging is unsustainable and much of it is illegal under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. Our actions have successfully extinguished most illegal cypress logging operations in coastal Louisiana, but logging continues to threaten coastal cypress swamps, making ABK’s Monitoring and Enforcement efforts critical to preserving Louisiana’s remaining cypress-tupelo forests. While the cypress mulch industry continues to be a threat, the emerging peril to our coastal cypress forests is from wood pellet production for biofuel in Europe. Swamps in the U.S. are already being logged to make wood pellets and at least four wood pellet plants are being built in Louisiana. ABK created the Save Our Native Forests Coalition to deal with this issue. Our Swamp Shield Campaign is the only thing standing between the loggers and our coastal cypress forests.

  • Year established:2004
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:7
  • Advisory board size:10
  • Staff size:2


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:51-0526541

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:510526541
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:% DEAN A WILSON
  • Organization Address:PO BOX 410
  • Organization City:BATON ROUGE
  • Organization State:LA
  • Organization Zip:70821-0000
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:March, 2006
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:December, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:December
  • NTEE Code:C32
  • Asset Amount:$65,150
  • Asset Code:3 ($25,000 - $99,999)
  • Income Amount:$169,032
  • Income Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$168,593
  • Last Updated:3/21/2018 7:19:52 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.