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May 17, 2021


Many people think that being involved in any type of replanting in marsh restoration projects is a lot of work that's not worth their effort because the only visible change will likely be many years off into the future. Well, the pictures below show that this is not true.

Each photo is from the same scene at the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East. The "before" pictures were taken a couple of weeks before the first iris planting there in February of 2018. The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) has been back over the last two years adding more. The "after" pictures were taken last month of the same spots. That's only three years after the first I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana irises were planted.

LICI has taken on the challenge of turning this area of the refuge back into a great example of a Louisiana cypress tree swamp, as it is was back in its history. Judging from the pictures, the cypress trees and native Louisiana irises that they have planted, along with future plantings that they have plans for, will continue to fundamentally change this spot each year to allow them to reach that goal.



Photo: The viewing platform is shown on the Bayou Sauvage Refuge boardwalk in February of 2018 two weeks before a permit was issued by the US Fish & Wildlife Service for the first Louisiana irises to be planted.


Photo: The same location three years later during the April, 2021 iris bloom.


Photo: The area to the right of the viewing platform of the Bayou Sauvage Refuge boardwalk is shown in February of 2018.


You can see on the left side of the photo the remnants of huge cypress trees. Clumps of these ancient roots are spread out across the area where we have planted the irises. One root clump equals one cypress tree. Judging by the size of the root clumps the cypress trees must have been between 3' - 4' in diameter.


Photo: The same location three years later during the April, 2021 iris bloom.



Photo: The area to the right of the viewing platform of the Bayou Sauvage Refuge boardwalk is shown in February of 2018.



Photo: The same location three years later during the April, 2021 iris bloom.


If you are interested in volunteering for one of Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's (LICI) iris rescue or iris planting events you can contact them at licisaveirises@gmail.com.


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Updated: May 18

May 7, 2021 Grand Isle, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) has been invited to participate in the planning for proposed improvements to be done at the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. The planning involves multiple groups with an interest in seeing that the properties offer the best experience possible for out of town visitors and local residents that use the trails. They hope to raise enough money to extend the boardwalk, removal of invasive plant species, rebuilding the trail system and adding educational, historical and directional signage.


LICI had prevously committed to work with the Grand Isle Garden Club to increase the number of Louisiana irises growing on the properties.


The first planning meeting was held on Friday May 7, 2021 in Grand Isle. The group toured two key properties with Nature Conservancy's property manager, local historian and community activist, Jean Landry leading the way after a lunch meeting at a local restaurant.


Photo: There is a trail system that connects the seven Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle. There is currently no signage on any of the trails to help trail users find their way. The main east/west trail has historical significance because it was the path that residents on the island used back in time to get from one end of the island to the other before the highway was built. The majority of the trails are unimproved dirt tracks that are in disrepair with many low spots that hold water. This causes hikers to create new paths around the wet spots, which can compact the soil around the tree roots.



LICI has an on-going Louisiana iris project on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties. Joining LICI board member Gary Salathe on the tour and at the meeting was LICI’s board member, Paul Christiansen, who was also representing the Town of Grand Isle. "We are excited to be a part of this effort to enhance these special properties, which are the last remnants of the live oak/hackberry forests that once covered Grand Isle", Salathe said.


Photo: Irises planted by LICI blooming this past April on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. Photo by Paul Christiansen.



The Nature Conservancy purchased the tracts of land on Grand Isle because the forests are some of the last remaining undeveloped property on Grand Isle that are extremely important to migrating birds. The birds land on the trees to rest and feed after flying across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring or as they prepare to cross it again in the fall on their way south.


Photo: Nature Conservancy's on-site property manager, Jean Landry, (on left) points out various plants growing in a fresh water bog on the Griletta Tract to Hilary Collis. Hillary is Associate Director of Philanthropy for the Nature Conservancy. Louisiana irises planted by LICI can be seen in the photo growing among the wildflowers to the left of the boardwalk. The plan is for this boardwalk to be extended to cover an area at its end that holds water after a rainstorm.



The two bird migration seasons bring huge numbers of bird-watchers to the island. The live oak forests on Grand Isle offer them a chance to see numerous species of birds all in one spot as the birds pass through heading north or south, depending on the time of year.


Part of the plan for improvements to the properties is to increase the number and diversity of Louisiana native plants growing there. "This is where the Louisiana iris comes into the picture", LICI board of directors member, Paul Christiansen says.


Photo: A section of the trail is shown that passes through a portion of the Landry/Leblanc Nature Conservancy property. It is a highly improved sand path created by the Town of Grand Isle when they needed somewhere to place sand that was covering sections of Hwy 1 after a hurricane hit the island last year. This is only a small stretch of the long trail system what winds through the seven properties. When the other sections of trails are improved they will not be as wide as this trail.



Paul has worked with Ronnie Sampey, president of the Grand Isle Garden Club, to have LICI's rescued Louisiana irises planted in the Nature Conservancy properties and at other locations on the island. Ronnie attended the meeting on Friday and told the group of the garden club's plans to propagate native plants and wildflowers that are found on the island to use in their projects. He offered to include some of these plants in the effort to increase the diversity of native plants on the Nature Conservancy properties.


Photo: Irises planted by LICI blooming this past April on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. Photo by Paul Christiansen.



LICI and the Grand Isle Garden Club have begun discussions on a joint project to set up an iris holding area on Grand Isle to use for planting irises into containers from some of LICI's iris rescue events. The irises will strengthen up in these containers before they are planted out in the field in the garden club's projects.


Native Plant enthusiast groups are growing almost as quickly as are bird-watching organizations. According to those present for the meeting and tour, eco-visitors like this are becoming an important part of the Grand Isle tourist industry, so its a win/win situation for all involved to see that the Nature Conservancy's properties on Grand Isle are maintained and accessible.


Photo: Seth Blitch, Louisiana Coastal and Marine Conservation Director for the Nature Conservancy, talks to the group about the need to have all of the trails in a usable and safe condition so that the public can access the properties to experience and learn about the plant and animal life found there. He said the Grand Isle properties are only one of three, among the thirty tracts of land they own in Louisiana, that are open to the public.









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Updated: May 18

May 1, 2021 New Orleans, La.


The 2020 iris rescue and planting season and the 2021 Louisiana spring iris bloom is now history. The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) had a big year in 2020 rescuing and planting over 8,000 wild native irises. That was followed in April of this year by more people than ever going out to the area refuge boardwalks where we planted irises to see them blooming. It was a huge win/win for everyone involved. It was all made possible our many volunteers that helped out in our projects and through the financial support we received from donations.

We are getting ready to start rescuing irises for planting during the fall of 2021. They'll need to spend a few months at our iris holding area in New Orleans strengthen up before they go back out into the swamps.

We've had requests come in from new locations asking us to plant our rescued irises there. We'd like to do that and continue to add more irises to our existing locations. But to do it, we'll need some help.

We are an all-volunteer run State of Louisiana registered non-profit that aims to have a big impact at a small cost. We have no paid staff and very little overhead expenses. We have no membership, no meetings and no social events, just a volunteer board of directors and the volunteers that participate in our projects. All of our budget goes towards supporting our iris holding area and volunteer events to dig or plant irises.


We welcome any size donation to help with the overhead expenses that we incur with maintaining our iris holding area and putting on volunteer events.

We have a new PayPal account that will allow you to make a donation to us even if you do not have a Paypal account. A credit card will work. Any amount that you can give will be greatly appreciated.

If you would like to help, you can make your donation by clicking here: https://www.paypal.co/donate?hosted_button_id=LZD9X5YHAN7GJ Or by clicking on the "Donate" button at the top/left corner of the banner across our website pages.

Thank you!!

Photos (from top/left to right) LICI volunteers planting irises at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, Volunteers from the Green Team helping out at our iris holding area, Volunteers from various groups helping at our Fontainebleau State Park projects, Volunteers helping to plant irises at our iris holding area.


Photo: The LICI iris holding area with almost all of the containers filled with irises in early August, 2020. By the end of the month each containers was filled.


Photo: These are the locations that we planted irises in 2020 to early 2021.



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