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November 14, 2021 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) completed a Louisiana iris planting at the Sankofa Nature Park and Wetlands in the Lower Ninth Ward neighbor of New Orleans today.

LICI has a multi-year iris restoration project at the park.

Volunteers planting Louisiana irises at Sankofa Nature Park and Wetlands on November 13th.

I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana irises from LICI's iris rescue program were planted.

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 owner has said he would give them thirty days to remove all of the irises if the property sells, but there are too many to take out in that short of a time period, so they have been working on getting them out over the last two years. 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.

Sankofa Nature Park is one of six locations where LICI plants rescued irises as a place for them to multiply on their own without any maintenance being needed by anyone. The blooming irises will be in view to the public at the park, which furthers their goal of raising awareness of this native Louisiana plant.

An irises from LICI's iris rescue program is planted in its new protected permanent home at Sankofa Nature Park and Wetlands.

Tricia LeBlanc, Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail Program Director, organized the work morning. The group planted irises on the last stretch of pond shoreline that did not have irises planted from LICI's volunteer event last year. Information on our iris planting last year at Sankofa can be found here:

Sankofa is expecting to start construction in January 2022 to significantly expand the number of ponds at the nature park. They have offered to use these new shorelines for growing more of LICI's rescued irises.

The volunteers for the November 13th iris planting are shown after the last iris was planted.

Sankofa Nature Park and Wetlands is located on Florida Ave. in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. Throughout its history the residents of the neighborhood there predominately African American that owned their homes. It was the largest African American neighborhood in New Orleans with owner-occupied homes. Hurricane Katrina floodwaters destroyed the Lower Ninth Ward when one of the largest levee breaches took place along the edge of the neighborhood at the Industrial Canal. Various non-profits have worked in there since 2006 to help bring the neighborhood back. The Sankofa Nature Park and Wetlands is another step in accomplishing this.


November 10, 2021 Jean Lafitte, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized volunteers to do the final clean-up of Hurricane Ida debris at the Jean Lafitte Wetlands Trace Boardwalk today. The group also planted more Louisiana irises.

A Common Ground Relief volunteer works with the organization's Executive Director, Charlotte Clarke (on right), to remove dried mud from the Wetlands Trace Boardwalk during the work-morning on November 10th.

Common Ground Relief volunteers joined with those from LICI to do this second clean-up work-morning at the boardwalk since the hurricane. Branches, logs, trash, marsh grasses and mud that had been pushed up onto the boardwalk by the hurricane's storm surge were cleaned off. The boardwalk is now cleaned off from end to another.

The sections of the boardwalk that were raised up from Hurricane Ida's storm surge, which covered the boardwalk, will be repaired in January by the Tierra Foundation using Louisiana Green Corps workers.

The irises that were planted on November 10th as a test to make sure the soil hasn't been too greatly impacted by Hurricane Ida's saltwater storm-surge. LICI had a soil test done and a soil expert recommended to them by the Tierra Foundation reviewed the test results. His report was that the salt and PH "are on the bubble of what is doable for irises."

The I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris is what was planted at the boardwalk on November 10th. This species of irises is native to the Jean Lafitte area. The irises were donated in July by Cindy Baucum, of nearby Barataria, La., in July and have been growing at the LICI iris holding area in New Orleans since then.

There were also indications in the swamp by the boardwalk that the area was overpopulated with nutria and swamp rabbits. Both of these animals will eat Louisiana iris leaves if they are very hungry. The irises are usually mildly toxic to wildlife, but they will eat the leaves if there are no other plants available during the dead of winter.

LICI decided the best way to find out if irises can flourish again at the boardwalk is to plant some in at different spots and see how they do.

The volunteers begin work on November 10th planting Louisiana irises after they finished cleaning off the boardwalk.


November 7, 2021 New Iberia, La.

The Teche Ecology, Culture & History Education Project (T.E.C.H.E. Project) invited the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) to partner with them to do a Bayou Teche shoreline restoration demonstration project in New Iberia's City Park on Saturday, November 6, 2021. T.E.C.H.E. Project and LICI volunteers did the work to get the plants in the ground yesterday.

Patti Holland with the T.E.C.H.E. Project was the lead on the project. She worked with the Acadian Native Plant Project to get other wetland plants and organized getting the volunteers for the day's event.

A few months before the iris planting, New Iberia mayor, Freddie DeCourt, had a section of the Bayou Teche shoreline in City Park cleared of concrete rip-rap so that the planting would be possible.

The mayor of New Iberia, Freddie DeCourt, not only encouraged the groups to do the demonstration project, but cleared off the concrete rip-rap from a 160' section of the bayou shoreline to make the planting possible.

Peter Patout is a Louisiana iris enthusiast, art and antiques appraiser, historic property realtor and a civic booster of the Bayou Teche area. He was instrumental in pulling all of the groups together to make the demonstration project happen.

Local civic activist, Peter Patout, is shown near the end of the iris planting on November 6th with a very satisfied look on his face. He is on a mission to have wild, native Louisiana irises growing along the length of Bayou Teche as they were back in the area's not too distance past.

T.E.C.H.E. Project is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose members are passionate about making Bayou Teche a healthier waterway through action and education. A video explaining their Reviving Resilient Landscapes - Bankline Restoration Program can be found here:

The Bayou Teche shoreline just before planting began on November 6, 2021.

During the planning stage for the City Park bank stabilization demonstration project those involved thought that having irises being a prominent part of this effort was a good idea since the Louisiana iris has been part of the culture of the Bayou Teche region all through its history. LICI agreed.

This is the third planting LICI has done with the T.E.C.H.E. Project to show how landowners along the bayou can use native plants to stabilize their shoreline instead of the traditional method of using concrete rip-rap. The planting yesterday was the largest.

Work begins planting irises and other native plants along the Bayou Teche shoreline in New Iberia's City park.

LICI donated 130 I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris from their iris rescue program for the project yesterday. The mayor has agreed that these irises can be thinned out in the future for other LICI projects to promote the use of irises along the bayou. The planting also achieves one of LICI's goals of having this species of native iris in view to the public as an educational tool on why the irises, and their habitat, need to be preserved.

There is also some discussion of increasing the number of irises growing in the area and along Bayou Teche so that the town can hold an iris festival in a few years. "We are very supportive of this idea and look forward to working on other projects in the region to promote the Louisiana iris," sums up LICI's Gary Salathe.

The volunteers are shown after the planting was completed.

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