About St. Mary Parish

Camelia W. Soprano  |  5/16/2005 11:36:10 PM

Fishing is one of the many sports enjoyed in St. Mary Parish.

Parish Information
St. Mary Parish is southeast of Lafayette and northwest of New Orleans, nestled between the Atchafalaya River Basin and the Gulf of Mexico.

History 
The parish was created in 1811 when Attakapas County was split into two separate parishes by the Legislature of the New Orleans Territory. The northern part of Attakapas became St. Martin Parish and the southern portion became what is now St. Mary. Incorporated cities include Berwick, Franklin (parish seat), Baldwin, Patterson and Morgan City.

Industry 
St. Mary Parish is rich in agriculture, seafood and industry. The parish area of 442,000 acres contains 660 miles of inland navigable waterways, making it very attractive to shipping, fabrication and fishing industries. Much of the land is used for agriculture. St. Mary Parish is one of the highest-producing sugarcane parishes in the state. The economy is very diverse, including agriculture, shipbuilding, fabrication, and freshwater and saltwater fisheries. Two ports are located on the Intracoastal Waterway. There are also airport facilities in Patterson, as well as highway and rail lines throughout the parish. Oil-related industries as well as carbon black plants are here, taking advantage of the many methods of shipping.

Culture
Many nationalities combine to make up the citizenry of the parish: English, Spanish, French, Afro-Americans and St. Mary's first settlers, the Chitimacha Indian Tribe. We celebrate our heritage and important sectors of life through several area festivals:

Tourism and Recreation
There is something for everyone to enjoy in this diverse parish. Antebellum homes, swamp gardens, swamp tours, an aviation museum, festivals and fairs are just the start. All types of fishing are within easy access. Lakes and bayous, plus the Atchafalaya Basin, offer a variety of freshwater catches. Saltwater species can be found in coastal waters bordering the parish. Easy access to the Gulf of Mexico is available, which makes crabs, shrimp and, of course, our beloved crawfish, readily available. Seasonal hunting for birds or game is another attraction. We even have an alligator season! In addition, recreational parks provide boat launches, campsites and golf courses.

Black Bear Refuge
The primary mission of Bayou Teche NWR is to preserve and manage habitat for the Louisiana black bear. This threatened species is a rare and special animal of national interest, as shown by the dedication of federal dollars to buy the 9,040-acre property. Only about 300 Louisiana black bears exist, and they are found only in three small areas of Louisiana. St. Mary and Iberia parishes are one of those areas and are home to about 100 of these bears. Other goals of this refuge are to provide habitat for other fish and wildlife species, environmental education and opportunity for public recreation such as hunting, fishing, boating, bird and wildlife watching, and photography.

Would you like to know more?  Please visit: 

Atchafalaya.org for information on the nation's largest river swamp and its heritage. It also contains information on "Experience Atchafalaya Days" held each October.

Cajun Coast for more information about our beautiful and diverse parish.

St. Mary Parish School Board for information on St. Mary Parish public schools.

Local Newspapers

About St. Mary Parish
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