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Updated: Jun 10, 2020

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:

More information on the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge can be found here:

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Updated: Jun 18, 2020

March 14, 2020 Grand Isle, La.

The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana has preserved several small tracts of forest totaling about 41 acres on Grand Isle and has worked with local companies and residents to encourage restoration of former forests and promote environmental education through planting trees with school programs.

Grand Isle has long been recognized as one of the most important stopover sites for neotropical migratory birds flying across the Gulf of Mexico on their annual migration to and from North America. The trees on Grand Isle are often their first resting stop before or after making the five hundred mile flight across the Gulf.

Bryan and Melanie Benigno took these pictures of irises blooming at the Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Track in Grand Isle, La. The Grilletta track is just one of a number of parcels that comprise the Nature Conservancy's Lafitte Woods group of properties

that have some of the last native live oak forests that were once prevalent on the island back in history. These forests are extremely important as a resting stop for birds migrating north in the spring because the island is the first land they come to after their long journey flying across the Gulf of Mexico.

The number of birding people that come to Grand Isle during their annual bird migration celebration during the month of April is beginning to outnumber the number of people that come for their world famous Tarpon Rodeo. Many of the visitors end up walking the trails in the Nature Conservancy's properties.

There is a walking trail on the property that goes through a freshwater bog, which is above sea level and not affected by the tide. Bryan and Melanie like to hike the trail and they do so often. They ran across these blooming Louisiana irises which is the I. giganticaerulea species of iris.

Photos: Louisiana irises blooming on The Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Track in Grand Isle, La. on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

More information on The Nature Conservancy's Grand Isle properties can be found here:

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March 12, 2020 Denham Springs, LA

Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) member, Gary Salathe, was invited to do a presentation by Southeastern University of Louisiana at their Livingston Parish Center in Denham Springs, LA as part of their after hours Explore Nature Family Program. The event was held on March 12th and was open to the public. His topic was on the Louisiana iris.

One half of Gary's presentation was on the cultivar Louisiana irises that grow in home gardens and how they are all descendants of the five wild Louisiana species irises, four of which are native to Louisiana. The other half was on projects organized by the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) to rescue wild irises that are threatened with destruction and to relocate them into natural areas within refuges and nature preserves.

The gathering was the very last public event held at the university before it was shut down due to the threat of the Covid 19 virus. The lights were literally turned off and the doors locked for the last time as soon as the presentation was finished.

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