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Updated: Jul 21

June 27, 2021 Jean Lafitte, La.


After a break of 15 years due to hurricanes and other things that diverted the attention of town leaders, the town of Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival returned in 2021. The 2 1/2 day event was a huge success, partially because it was the first festival with live music that has taken place since COVID 19 shut down everything in 2020. South Louisianians MUST have their festivals and live music, preferable both at the same time, so they were ready to come out in droves.

The Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival was the first large live music event in the New Orleans area since the COVID 19 lockdowns.


The town is interested in doing a smaller "Save the Coast" festival next April centered on their nearby Wetlands Trace Boardwalk and its blooming irises. The mayor invited a number of groups in Louisiana's marsh restoration effort to hold information booths open at the seafood festival this year as a test run of the idea. Each group was given a spot under a large canopy near the entrance to the boardwalk to share information on their projects and to let everyone know how they can help out by getting involved in. SeaGrant, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Restore or Retreat, Jefferson parish, Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Healthy Gulf and the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) signed up and each help open a booth.

Local entertainer and celebrity, Rock'n Dopsie, of the Zydeco Twisters, helped LICI open their booth up at the start of the first full day of the festival.


In addition to information about the group and their projects, LICI's booth displays also highlighted the town's Wetlands Trace Boardwalk because it is the location of an important iris restoration project for them. The boardwalk is one mile long and winds through a cypress tree swamp. It was built in 2002 by four volunteers that were led by Joe Baucum, now deceased, who was a local naturalist and civic booster.

The poster is shown that was used in the LICI booth to explain what they do.


Joe Baucum's widow, Cindy Baucum, is a friend of LICI and has helped out at iris planting events at the boardwalk that her husband helped build. She also has plans to donate the Louisiana irises growing in a ditch on her property. Joe protected these irises from the parish road crews that regularly sprayed a herbicide on the rest of the ditches that are alongside the road, which runs for miles before it passes through their land.


Cindy Baucum found some old photographs in her records of Joe and his crew building the boardwalk. She supplied LICI with digital copies so that they could make one poster for their booth and one to be put out onto the boardwalk during the festival, which was done.

LICI's poster about the building of the Wetlands Trace Boardwalk in 2002 by volunteers Joe Baucum and three of his friends. One of the posters was put up near where people lined up to board the swamp tour boat at the picnic area midway on the boardwalk.


A number of LICI volunteers helped out holding the booth open Saturday and Sunday during the festival. They handed out brochures about LICI and its partners, signed up future volunteers and told the story of Joe Baucum and his friends building the boardwalk to people that visited the booth.

LICI's booth is shown at the Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival.


Although the music was the center of attention during the festival, the boardwalk ended up getting hundreds of visitors. There were "Wine and Stroll" stations set up along the boardwalk where a glass of wine could be purchased as you took in the sights. A local swamp tour company used the picnic area mid-way through the boardwalk as a base for short swamp tours that they gave to the festival goers using their boat.

The swamp tour boat that was used to give tours during the festival.


As Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Jr. said in a Facebook posting a few days after the festival, "This weekend our town took center stage. The return of the Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival was a success beyond our expectations. The vendors, chefs, local and national artists all enjoyed rave reviews from Lafitte’s record setting crowd of festival goers."

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Updated: Jul 21

June 22, 2021 Lockport, La

Photo by Henry Cancienne


The Lafourche Parish Government's A Look At Lafourche Facebook page recently invited the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) to participate in a video on Thursday that they wanted to produce about LICI's iris restoration project at the town of Lockport, La.'s Elevated Boardwalk . The parish's A Look At Lafourche Facebook page is used to highlight activities taking place within Lafourche Parish.


After two cancelled dates due to inclement weather, the video was shot on Thursday, June 17th as LICI was there with volunteers planting Louisiana irises. The irises had been rescued that morning from a site along Hwy 90 in the nearby town of Des Allemands.


The video includes an interview with Lafourche Parish Councilman, Armand Autin, who has been a big supporter of LICI's iris restoration project at the boardwalk and was instrumental in getting the project approved last year.


Charlotte Clarke, Executive Director of Common Ground Relief, Inc., was also interviewed and appears in the video. Common Ground Relief has partnered with LICI on many projects and supplied two volunteers that morning for the iris rescue and planting.


Although LICI's iris planting on the day that the video was filmed included only a small number of volunteers, the irises that LICI planted earlier this year at the boardwalk included many other volunteers from the local area.


"We planted these irises as part of our mission to raise awareness with the public of this wonderful native Louisiana plant. However, its nice to know that because our work brings people out to the boardwalks it is helping others, like the parish tourism staff, achieve their mission, too." said Gary Salathe, volunteer and board of directors member of LICI, who also appeared in the video.


The A Look At Lafourche Facebook page video can be found here:

https://fb.watch/v/3vtHKNZjM/



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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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