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January 5, 2022 Mandeville, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) partnered with the Honey Island Group - Sierra Club Delta Chapter and the St. Tammany Master Gardener Association, among others, in January 2021 to restore a section of Fontainebleau State Park near the beach by planting irises and cypress trees. (See more info here: ) This work was done as part of the two local groups joint effort to help beautify Fontainebleau State Park by planting native Louisiana plants and trees and working on invasive tree species removal.

Fountainebleau State Park is located just east of Mandeville, La., north of New Orleans.

LICI was asked a few months ago to once again help out by organizing a cypress tree seedling planting utilizing 400+ seedlings that were donated to the park. The original plan was to plant more Louisiana irises in the location of last January's planting on the same day that the seedlings were to be planted. The weather disrupted those plans when the area experienced a very dry and warm late fall and early winter. The hard, dry ground finally received enough rain by late December to make the seedling planting doable. The iris planting part of the game plan was delayed to another time because the cypress tree planting had to be rushed through with an "all hands on deck" volunteer event to plant them while some out of state university students hosted by Common Ground Relief were in the area for a week of service projects.

The Common Ground Relief volunteer group was made up of students from the University of South Dakota. Local LICI volunteers made plans to help out, as well. Volunteers from Honey Island Group - Sierra Club Delta Chapter, St. Tammany Master Gardener Association, Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans and the Mandeville Rotary Club were also invited to be part of the event.

Unexpected volunteers from the general public are shown arriving after a New Orleans TV news interview with the park manager about the tree planting included him inviting "everyone to come out to help plant the trees."

Then, on the morning of the event, Fox 8 TV did a live remote broadcast interview with the park manager and Charlotte Clarke, Common Ground Relief's executive director, during which the manager invited the public to come out to help plant the tree seedlings. That brought out 30 volunteers from the public, in addition to the volunteers with the other organizations. In other words, there was no shortage of volunteers to get the trees planted!

(Photo left to right) LSU's AgCenter's William Afton, Master Gardener Kim Burt, Common Ground Relief's Charlotte Clark, park manager Fouad Harb and LICI's Gary Salathe exchange friendly barbs as they find themselves standing among an anxious crowd of 50 volunteers raring to go planting trees at the start of the event.

All of the seedlings were planted within the two hours. It was a fine day with people of all ages helping out, including representatives of three boy-scout troops.

Common Ground Relief's Charlotte Clarke is seen giving some of the volunteers a demonstration on how to use a dibble to plant the seedlings.

Park manager, Fouad Harb, joined in the fun by planting a few cypress tree seedlings.

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January 2, 2022 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) planted more Louisiana irises in at the lagoon across from the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans' City Park in their multi-year project there.

The irises were planted along the bank of the lagoon across from the museum.

LICI planted I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris today that came from their iris rescue program. This location is one of six where LICI is planting rescued irises as a place for them to multiply on their own without any maintenance being done by anyone. The irises will be available to them in the future to thin out as they multiply to use in LICI's other iris restoration projects. In the meantime, the blooming irises will be in view to the public, which furthers the goal of LICI and the museum to raise awareness of this native Louisiana plant.

A portion of a second lagoon shoreline is shown where the irises were planted on January 2nd.

One of the key sites that LICI has been rescuing irises over the last two years is permitted for commercial development and is for sale. The plan is to relocate some of these irises to locations where they can safely grow for years and still be available to LICI to thin out for future projects. "We appreciated the Louisiana Children's Museum director's offer of using the lagoon bank across the from the museum to plant the irises. Its a win/win deal, is the way we see it", says LICI's board of directors member Gary Salathe.

One of the irises planted last year just happen to be blooming on the day when the new irises were added. The area has experienced a warm period in December, causing some confusion with the irises since they typically bloom in late March and early April.

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December 24, 2021 Lockport, La.

LICI volunteers added more irises to their on-going multi-year iris restoration project at the town of Lockport, La.'s Elevated Wetlands Boardwalk yesterday, December 23, 2021. It was their last planting at the boardwalk for this iris planting season. It was the sixth time LICI volunteers have been out to the boardwalk planting irises since the project began in late 2020. The group worked hard and planted an estimated 375 irises.

The volunteers are shown beginning work planting irises at the town of Lockport's Elevated Wetlands Boardwalk on December 23rd.

The irises that were planted were the I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris that came from an iris rescue event held the week before.

Newly planted irises on December 23rd.

Its estimated that there may be as many as 1,400 irises that LICI volunteers have planted at the boardwalk over the last year, including the irises planted yesterday. Irises from the earliest plantings are multiplying and are doing great.

"We'd like to once again thank the landowner, Hugh Caffery, for granting us permission to plant the irises. We also like to thank Lafourche Parish Councilman, Armand Autin, and the Lafourche Parish government employees who assisted with the coordination of this project. All were excited to have the irises added to the boardwalk area and are encouraging us to continue the plantings, " LICI's Gary Salathe summed up.

Four of the five volunteers at the Lockport, La. iris planting on 12-23-20201 are shown in this photo; (Left to Right) Scott Schexnaydre, Mike Glaspell, Gary Salathe and Connie Adams. Henry Cancienne helped out by keeping the volunteers supplied with irises from the boardwalk.

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