Public Use

Public vehicle access on RWR is limited to six miles of interior roads. These provide dry land access for recreational fishing, with the most popular area being Price Lake Road, located along the western boundary of RWR. Public usage along the refuge is measured with car counting devices. These counters are located at the entrance of the three highest public use areas (Price Lake Road, Joseph Harbor boat launch, East End Locks boat launch) and the number of vehicles using these points is recorded. Those numbers are then used to calculate the number of man-hours spent on the refuge and consumptive use percentages by the public. It is estimated that the refuge receives on average 100,000 annual visitors.

In order to access the majority of the refuge, there are three boat ramps that are open to public use. Two of these ramps are state owned, maintained by RWR staff, and are free to the public. These ramps, located by Joseph Harbor Canal just off Hwy 82 in Cameron Parish, are very heavily used and received significant damage from Hurricanes Rita and Ike. The launch located by the East End Locks launch was repaired following Ike, while the Joseph Harbor launch improvements have been planned and will soon be initiated. The third ramp, Rollover Bayou Landing, is a private, fee-based launch near Pecan Island, Louisiana (Vermilion Parish), which is located along the eastern most boundary of the refuge.

Approximately 106 miles of canals are available to the public for recreational fishing during the spring, summer, and fall. Around 40% of these canals contain fresh to periodically brackish waters. During the winter months many of these fishing canals are closed, as sections of the refuge are closed to limit disturbance to wintering waterfowl. Around 40 miles of canal remain open year round.