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Updated: Feb 11, 2021

January 21, 2021 Morgan City, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized an iris planting on Wednesday, January 20th at the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau's visitors center in Morgan City, Louisiana. Volunteers from Common Ground Relief and LICI planted I. giganticaerulea species irises from the LICI iris rescue program.

The purpose of the Cajun Coast visitors center is to introduce to the public all things that the Acadian region of south Louisiana has to offer to visitors. The raised building is actually located within a cypress swamp and has an outdoor deck that circles the building. It allows visitors to safely see and experience a typical Louisiana cypress swamp.

The Cajun Coast Visitor's Center Last year the LICI learned that the swamp next to the visitors center had no Louisiana irises growing in it. Although there are some healthy clumps of irises growing out in the swamp on either side of the building in the distance, they were too far away to be seen from the deck. Since the Louisiana iris is an important part of Cajun culture, it was thought something had to be done about this problem of no blooming irises being in view to visitors at the center.

Kim Walden, member of the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau, and Christal L. Carter, manager of the Cajun Coast Visitors Center, in December wholeheartedly agreed to LICI's proposal to plant native irises in the swamp around the building.

The iris planting was scheduled for January since the water level is down

during winter's typical north winds and low tides.

It is always difficult to estimate how many iris are brought out to these plantings. Since many of the irises, as shown in the photo on left, were single irises that take up less space in the trailer as compared to clumps, it's possible there were as many as 500-600 irises planted that day.

The volunteers planted the irises in the soft, semi-liquid, rich muck that passes as soil in Louisiana's swamps. Photo on right: A long pole with a small digging tool attached to the end was used to plant irises out from the narrow area of firm ground on the rights side and rear of the building. The other volunteers used rakes to break through the surface to the soft ground or muck below.

Photo on left: Two of the Common Ground Relief volunteers at work behind the building. Wearing masks and social distancing was practice by the volunteers.

Photo on right: Some of the irises that were planted. The area of the photo will likely have 4" to 6" of standing water when the tide returns to its typical spring and summer height.

Seven of the eight volunteers pose for the "last goodby and job well done!" photo.

The Cajun Coast Visitors Center location and contact info:

Morgan City Visitor Center

900 Dr Martin Luther King Blvd

Morgan City, LA 70380

985-380-8224 or 800-256-2931

Open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm

Saturday & Sunday, 9 am to 3 pm

Their website can be found here:

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Updated: Feb 14, 2021

January 17, 2021 Grand Isle, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized a Louisiana iris planting on Wednesday, January 16th, 2021 at The Nature Conservancy’s Grilletta Tract in Grand Isle, La. The volunteers included members of the Native Plant Initiative, Grand Isle Garden Club, Terrebonne Parish Bird Club and LICI volunteers.

The iris planting was arranged by Jean Landry, manager of The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties, to add to the native Louisiana irises already growing on the property. This was the third time that irises have been planted over the last two years as part of Jean’s efforts to increase the number of native plants growing there.

Photo above: Jean Landry (on far left) gives the group a history of the property and her involvement in it during her opening remarks. She also explained why this is such critical habitat for migrating birds.

Photo above: The view of the trail that runs front to back through the center of the property as seen from one of the Live Oak tree groves.

The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties are there to preserve what were once large stands of trees, including live oaks, that covered the entire island. These trees are the first that birds have to rest on after arriving at Grand Isle from their long journey flying across the across open waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the central flyway from Central and South America. Its also the last chance for birds to rest after coming from across the central areas of the United States on the their way back in the fall before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Birders from around the country come to Grand Isle and this tract of land because it offers them the chance to see a congregation of different bird species all within a small area.

I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris were planted by the volunteers. The irises came from the LICI iris holding area in New Orleans from irises that were rescued at a property this past summer that was expanding a parking lot.

Photo on above: Many of the irises were planted in a

freshwater bog located in the center of the property.

The bog is not affected by tidal action, but does flood during high water events associated with tropical storms or hurricanes. Properties on either side of the Grilletta Tract drain into the bog.

Since the Louisiana iris is a fresh water plant, there was some concern that they may not be able to survive tropical systems' storm surges that occur when a storm passes nearby. However, the irises that were planted last year not only survived 2020's hurricane season, which flood the property twice during the fall, but they seemed to be thriving.

It is possible that fresh water from rain associated with a tropical system quickly flushes out any salt water from a storm surge that has pushed up onto the property. Jean said that the storm surge flood waters drain out very quickly after a storm passes because the rear of the property has frontage on the back bay of Grand Isle, but it takes a few days for the rain water from adjacent properties to then slowly drain off through the bog.

Photo on right: Irises being planted in the bog after some dead grass has been cleared away.

The overall strategy for the morning was to plant the irises in numerous locations to see how well they do. The areas where the irises thrive will get more irises next year.

Photo above: Fifteen of the sixteen volunteers that planted irises at the Grilletta Tract are shown in this "Last goodby and job well done!" photo.

Grilletta Tract can be found at 3151 LA-1, Grand Isle, LA 70358

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January 10, 2021 Port of Manchac, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) was invited to plant Louisiana irises on a Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) cypress tree planting volunteer event on Saturday, January 9, 2021. The plan was for some of the volunteers taking part in the CRCL event to plant Louisiana irises at the site of the tree planting as a test to see if irises could be added into future planting events, since cypress trees and irises are found growing naturally in the same habitat. This is the second year that this was attempted, with two events last year being cancelled do to high water at the site.

Photo on left: The sign-in table as volunteers begin to arrive.

As stated on their website; "The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to drive bold, science-based action to sustain a dynamic coastal Louisiana through engagement and advocacy."

Incorporated in 1988, CRCL represents a coalition of businesses, local governments, industries, scientific communities, national and local conservation groups, hunters, anglers and concerned citizens who all share a common vision and commitment to the sustainability of coastal Louisiana.

Photo above: Over thirty volunteers signed up for the event.

Six of the volunteers spent the morning planting I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris supplied by LICI as the other volunteers planted cypress, tupelo gum and swamp maple trees.

Photo on left: A boat leaves the dock with some of the irises and volunteers.

The irises came from a LICI iris rescue project done this summer. They have spent the last few months strengthen up at the LICI iris holding area in the lower ninth ward neighborhood of New Orleans. On this day they were being returned to the wild, but in a much better location from where they came.

The planting site was located along north pass of the Manchac Pass about a mile from the dock.

The morning had a cold start to it, but it quickly warmed up enough to make the day doable. It was a full sunshine day with a light breeze.

Photo on left: One group planted irises about 12" - 24" from what appeared to the normal water line. The rhizomes were pointed in the direction of the water with the idea that they will grow out into it to escape competition from the other marsh plants.

The property is owned by Southeast Louisiana University in Hammond, La. The university maintains a nearby research station named Turtle Cove.

One of the SLU professors involved in the Turtle Cove research station came out to observe the tree and iris plantings. She took GPS readings for each location of where the irises were planted. Her plan is to share the locations with LICI. She said she will be back to the site each year to monitor the success of the tree planting project, but will also include how the irises are doing in her reports.

Photo above: A second group of volunteers began planting irises at small ponds away from the shoreline that looked as though they hold water year round.

Photo on right: The first group of volunteers planting irises.

It was a great day that will likely open up many more opportunities in the future for the LICI to accomplish its mission of reestablishing the Louisiana iris in areas where it once grew in abundance.

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