March 21, 2020 Houma, La.
Nicole Lundberg, Area Agent, Southwest Region (Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes) for Sea Grant Louisiana, and Shelley Stiaes, the manager of the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, separately sent in these pictures to us during the iris bloom on the wetlands path at the refuge, which is located near Houma, Louisiana.
There were only a few small clumps of native Louisiana irises growing along the walking path and in the nearby marsh last fall. The irises were the remnants of what were once large numbers that grew in the refuge. They were the survivors from the impact of salt water being pushed into the freshwater marsh by tropical storm systems over the last few years.
It was thought that it would be a good idea to plant more irises to increase their numbers since the walking path is heavily used by the public. It would create an opportunity for the people in the area to experience Louisiana irises blooming in their natural habitat to help raise awareness of this beautiful native pant species. The irises would come from a project that recently rescued irises from a property that is permitted for development and places were needed to move them to.
Gary Salathe, with the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI), supplied the irises and lead the volunteer group that Nicole Lundberg put together to plant over 300 I. giganticaerulea species Louisiana irises at the walking path in November of 2019. The volunteers were with the Terrebonne parish 4H Club Junior Leaders. The pictures show that many of the irises they planted bloomed the first spring in their new home.
A video of the irises being planted can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btbdmt4HttI
More information on the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Mandalay/