December 6, 2020 New Iberia, La.
A representative of the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) along with other interested parties involved in native plants met with the mayor of New Iberia, La., Freddie DeCourt and Cathy Voorhies Indest, President of the Iberia Cultural Resources Association and a local civic booster, on Sunday, December 6th. We really appreciated them taking out time on a cold and rainy Sunday to spend some time with our group.
Photo on left: Mayor Freddie DeCourt enthusiastically explains to the group the city's plans to revamp a section of Bayou Teche's shoreline in the center of the city in a highly visible next to a heavily used bridge.
The stop at the city of New Iberia was part of an all day tour of the Bayou Teche region organized by Peter Patout, a Louisiana iris enthusiast, art and antiques appraiser, historic property realtor and a civic booster of the area.
Photo on right: Cathy Indest looks out over the bayou at the proposed iris planting locations. Cathy is a local civic booster that is usually at the center of anything being done to improve the city.
The purpose of the trip was to investigate opportunities for planting native species Louisiana iris along the shoreline of Bayou Teche as part of the T.E.C.H.E. Project's effort to increase the number of native plants growing along the bayou. The long term goal of this effort is to have landowners improve and stabilize their shoreline by planting native plants instead of building bulkheads or using concrete rip-rap to do the job. Additional benefits of using native plants for this purpose is enhancing the experience of people kayaking on the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, which is part of the National Water Trails System, and to have areas of blooming native plants along the bayou to enhance and preserve insect pollinators.
Photo on left: An area along Bayou Teche is to be revitalized by the city this summer. The city has plans for a small marina and dock to be installed next to the red building seen in the distance. (The marina will be located where the bank of the bayou has been cut down as shown in the photo.) A new sidewalk that is under construction is also shown in the photo. Its being built along the edge of bayou to connect the new marina and the commercial building to the street that the bridge is on. It will allow pedestrians to walk along the bayou to the marina and the commercial building from downtown, which is located just one block away. The shoreline shown in the picture will be cleaned-up and reshaped. Its the area the mayor was proposing for a significant planting of Louisiana irises.
LICI is very interested in the T.E.C.H.E. Project's plans because it fits in with their goal of having native Louisiana irises in view to the public as an educational tool. The goal for the day was to locate spots at key places along the bayou where LICI's rescued I. giganticaerulea irises could be planted to achieve that goal.
A longer term goal is to find or develop a source where native irises can be propagated from seed so that in the future irises can be purchased in large numbers by landowners along Bayou Teche.
The last stop of the morning was to look over potential sites to plant irises along the bayou near downtown New Iberia. T.E.C.H.E. Project's proposed kayak launch/dock, which is scheduled to be installed soon, is one of the locations the group wanted to see. This is just one of a number of kayak launches being installed at intervals over a number of miles along Bayou Teche.
Photo on right: The site for the planned kayak launch and dock being installed by the T.E.C.H.E. Project is shown in the photo off the end of the bridge's wood bulkhead. It is directly across the bayou from the shoreline that is going to be improved. The mayor said they will remove the pieces of concrete rip-rap shown in the photo when the kayak dock is installed so that the area can be used for planting irises and other native plants.
Cathy Indest offered to be the contact person with the city to coordinate the iris and native plant plantings, which will likely take place this coming fall. LICI will work through the T.E.C.H.E. Project to donate the irises and to supply volunteers to help get them planted.
New Iberia is located about 25 miles east of Abbeville, which is home to the I. nelsonii Louisiana iris. Mayor DeCourt and Cathy are very interested in the city becoming the center of all things irises in the Bayou Teche area.
Photo on left: Some of the other attendees of the day's tour are shown, left to right, Charlotte Clarke, executive director of Common Ground Relief, Peter Patout and Patti Holland - who was representing the T.E.C.H.E. Project. Not shown in the photo is Poule d’Eau Kyle, an area iris enthusiast and civic volunteer in nearby Franklin, La. and Gary Salathe, a board of directors member of LICI.