December 17, 2021 Grand Isle, La.
The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) participated in an event organized by the Nature Conservancy to help clean-up Hurricane Ida storm debris from their Grilletta Tract of the Lafitte Woods Preserve. In addition, LICI's volunteers planted another 400 Louisiana irises in the freshwater bog located on the property while they were there.
The Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Tract is part of their Lafitte Woods, which is 35 acres live oak tree groves on Grand Isle. The Lafitte Woods is the last remnant of the live oak tree groves that of what once covered the entire island.
The Nature Conservancy's Lafitte Woods is a critical habitat for birds to rest once they have migrated across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring or to rest before they start their return trip in the fall. It attracts bird watchers from around the country.
The Grilletta Tract is one parcel of land among others that make up the Lafitte Woods holdings of the Nature Conservancy in Grand Isle. It is the site of an on-going Louisiana iris restoration project started by the Grand Isle Garden Club that has been continued since 2020 by LICI.
LICI's volunteers begin work helping to cleanup Hurricane Ida storm debris at the iris bog of the Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Tract on December 17th. Many of the volunteers were residents of nearby Lafourche parish and had also received hurricane damage to their homes and properties.
Crews from other Nature Conservancy properties in south Louisiana were on-site with equipment to help clean up as LICI's volunteers worked in the bog area.
Photo: As The Nature Conservancy's crew used heavy equipment to clean off hurricane debris from the front section of the property a LICI volunteer is shown bringing some irises to the freshwater bog for planting.
Grand Isle is a barrier island on Louisiana's Gulf of Mexico coast. The Grilletta Tract is located near the center of the island. The rear of the property has frontage on the back bay of Grand Isle. The irises are planted in a bog at the center of the property where there is a short boardwalk. Hurricane Ida's storm surge put the irises growing in the freshwater bog completely underwater with full-strength Gulf of Mexico seawater.
The volunteers begin planting irises after they had removed the hurricane debris.
2020's Hurricane Zeta also flooded the bog with its saltwater storm surge. LICI's Gary Salathe says, "The only explanation we have for their survival is that the storm surge came in quickly and left just as quickly after the storm passed by. That was followed by the drainage from next door neighborhoods allowing rainwater to flow through the bog for the last two months flushing out the salt left in the soil."
The last of the Louisiana iris are shown being planted.
LICI has plans to come back at least one more time to plant an equal number of Louisiana irises in the Grilletta Tract's freshwater bog during January.