Atchafalaya Waterways Scavenger Hunt

The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (AHNA) contains some of this nation’s most beautiful and mysterious landscape. It houses bayous, lakes, marshes, and swamps along with countless wildlife and tree specimens, and over 270 species of birds. But life in the AHNA is much more. The bounty of the water, the music, the people, all contribute to making AHNA a country within a country.

Use information from the Waterways & Structures Education Resource to complete the scavenger hunt below.
Download the booklet at

Fill in the Blank Answers

1. There is only one way to become a National Heritage Area, and that is to be recognized by the U.S. Congress.
2. Louisiana is fortunate to have two National Heritage Areas; the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and the Cane River National Heritage Area.
3. Atchafalaya is an American Indian word meaning long river.
4. The Atchafalaya Trace Commission is responsible for overseeing the development of a federal management plan and coordinating the implementation of its recommendations.
5. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area includes fourteen parishes in Louisiana. In 1802, the Atchafalaya River and Basin were maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
6. By 1778, (year) the entrance to the Atchafalaya River was occluded by a logjam. The Bonnet Carre Spillway was completed in 1931, while the Morganza Spillway was completed in 1954.
7. The Atchafalaya River’s source is near Simmesport, Louisiana.
8. The Mississippi River has been and is today a route for cargo ships for more than 200 years. The river is now one of the biggest and busiest commercial waterways in the world. The river carries approximately 75 million tons of cargo each year.
9.The Atchafalaya Basin is distinctive and varied in its habitat having 173,000 acres of cypress swamps and 64,000 acres of aquatic habitat.
10. There have been 18 great Mississippi River floods.
11. The most destructive river flood in the history of the United States was Mississippi Flood of 1927.
12. The Mississippi Flood of 1927 caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states.
13. The Mississippi River floods of 2011 were caused by record levels of rainfall, combinedwith springtime snowmelt.
14. The landscape of the Atchafalaya is made up of bayous, vast marshes, and America’s largest river swamp.
15. The food trinity includes celery, onions, and bell peppers.
16. The melding of cultures in the Atchafalaya produced native music traditions that include Cajun, zydeco, Rock ’n Roll, Rock-A-Billy, Gospel, and Country.

Waterway and Structure Answers

Atchafalaya River - A distributary of the Mississippi River and Red River in south central Louisiana and also provides a significant industrial shipping channel for the state.

Mississippi River - One of the largest rivers in North America, this river’s basin covers 41% of the United States and 1/8 of North America.

Atchafalaya Basin/Swamp - Consists of three floodways (Morganza, West Atchafalaya, and Atchafalaya Basin) and is maintained by the United States Army Corp of Engineers.

Mississippi Delta - includes a total of 308 counties and parishes in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee as well as the entire states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Mississippi River Drainage Basin - Recognized as the third largest water shed in the World, just behind the Amazon and Congo River Basins.

United States Army Corps of Engineers - Their mission is to provide vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen the nation’s security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters.

Mississippi River Commission - Develops plans to improve the condition of the Mississippi River, foster navigation, promote commerce, and prevent destructive floods.

Mississippi River & Tributaries Project - One of the major elements of this project is to improve and stabilize channels creating an efficient and reliable navigation capacity of the river, protecting the levee system.

Levee Systems - Close to the length of the Great Wall in China, these structures are designed to protect the alluvial valley against flood by confining the flow of water.

Backwater Areas - The result of gaps left in the main-stem Mississippi River levee system at the mouths of major tributaries that empty into the river.

Atchafalaya Basin Floodway - A flood control structure that helps to preserve the habitat of the nation’s largest and oldest river-basin swamp.

Bonnet Carre Spillway - Built in response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, this flood control operation allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain.

Morganza Spillway - This flood control operation is only allowed to be opened during flood emergencies, which has occurred twice since being built.

Old River Control Structure - Located in Concordia Parish, this flood control structure has several parts that assist in controlling the Mississippi River water flow including Low Sill Control Structure, Overbank Control Structure, Sidney A. Murray, Jr. Hydroelectric Plant, and the Auxiliary Structure.

Complete The Table Answers

Refuge or WMA
Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA
Elm Hall
Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge
Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge
Indian Bayou WMA
Marsh Island Wildlife Refuge
Thistlethwaite WMA
Point Coupee
St. Martin
St. Landry