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Updated: Feb 14, 2021

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.

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Updated: Nov 12, 2020

November 4, 2020 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) oranizeda multi-group volunteer day at the USF&WS' Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans east. The volunteers came from numerous groups, including The Friends of the Refuge, Limitless Vistas, Common Ground Relief, the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans and individuals that have signed up to be on the LICI volunteer list. Over 1,300 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises were added to the 2,500 already growing there from three years of plantings at the refuge's Ridgetrail boardwalk.

Photo: The irises arriving at the refuge for the planting event. The 1,000 irises were dug up from the LICI iris holding area by two volunteers the day before ended up not being enough. Later in the morning a group had to spit off from the planting and rush over to the iris holding area to dig up 300 more to finish the day’s project.

The project started three years ago to reintroduce native irises back into the refuge after Hurricane Katrina killed off the last of what was once hundreds of acres of irises back in the 1920’s.

Photo: The group begins work using a step ladder to get down from the boardwalk.

In addition to the Louisiana irises being planted, Common Ground Relief, a local non-profit involved in marsh restoration, donated and planted twenty cypress trees.

Photo: Common Ground Relief volunteers planting cypress trees.

The volunteers were so focused and worked so hard that they ran out of irises after only 1 1/2 hours of work. Work continued on the other side of the viewing platform after a small group of volunteers rushed back to the LICI iris holding area to get more irises,.

Photo: Volunteers working planting irises. The Executive Director of Common Ground Relief, Charlotte Clark, can be seen in the foreground.

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Updated: Feb 14, 2021

October 27, 2020 Braithwaite, LA

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) would like to welcome a new location into our growing list of properties where we are doing projects to manage, preserve or increase the number of native species Louisiana irises. In this new location we will be doing all three over the coming months. The location is the Louisiana St. Bernard State Park, which is located in Braithwaite, LA just southeast of New Orleans.

The volunteers worked Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at the park digging up threatened irises to take to the LICI iris holding area to strengthen them up for replanting back into the park in a couple of months, planted 200 new I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises to add to an existing clump of irises and cleared brush from the pond shoreline where the irises were planted.

A big "Thank You!" goes out to park manager, Ginger Theriot, for taking the time away from her hurricane Zeta preparations to meet with LICI representatives to review our proposed projects that morning. "She not only met with us, she approved all of the projects on the spot, so we decided since we had some volunteers with us to go ahead and get started!", LICI's Gary Salathe said.

"Thanks!" also goes out to the Executive Director of Common Ground Relief, Charlotte Clark, for not only supplying some volunteers for the project, but also getting down in the muck helping out herself.

Photo: A group effort.

The activity was organized by the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative as the first of what will be many more for this new long-term project at St. Bernard State Park.

A large outdoor pavilion within the picnic area is just a 20 yards from the linear pond where the irises were planted.

The iris planting was done in the park's picnic area.

Photo: Volunteers begin work by digging up a clump of existing irises.

Volunteers begin work by digging up a clump of irises. that a board of directors member of LICI discovered two years ago in a heavily wooded area of the park near the picnic area's parking lot. Between the heavy shade from the trees, as well as competing with the tree roots for moisture during the summer, the clump of irises has been slowly shrinking each year. Its doubtful it would have lasted more than another year or so in this location.

The plan was to dig up these irises and plant them into containers at the LICI iris holding area to strengthen them up over the next two or three months. They will then be brought back to the park and planted in a better location.

Photo: The second existing clump of I. giganticaerulea species Louisiana irises.

Another existing clump of I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris was also found two years ago growing along a linear pond that runs through the center of the park's picnic area. It is doing much better because of being along the water's edge and there being much less trees nearby to shade them during the summer. The trees lose their leaves during the winter, which is the growing season for the irises. The day's work included adding more I. giganticaerulea irises to this existing clump and then clear out the underbrush from along the pond bank so that the irises will be in full view when they bloom next spring.

Photo: The volunteers working planting irises along the linear pond.

About 200 new I. giganticaerulea irises were added to the pond bank near the existing clump of irises.

Photo: A section of the completed project at day's end.

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