top of page

Latest news

from LICI


April 16, 2021 Lockport, La.

There was quite an iris show at the Lockport, La. swamp boardwalk during three weeks at the end of March and the beginning of April. The red colored native Louisiana iris, I. fulva, was blooming along the road shoulder of the entrance road while the blue colored I. giganticaerulea Louisiana iris was blooming on either side the boardwalk.

The Lockport, La boardwalk is located at:

6419 LA-308, Lockport, LA 70374

Although the I. fulva species iris, otherwise known as the “Copper Iris”, have been growing and blooming on the road shoulder and ditch for years, this is the first year that the I. giganticaerulea species iris, otherwise known as the “Giant Blue" iris, has been present along the boardwalk. That was a direct result of a project being completed by the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) to introduce these native Louisiana irises into the swamp at the boardwalk.

There were no Giant Blue irises growing near the boardwalk prior to LICIs planting even though they are native to the area. “Its likely that the iris can be found growing somewhere out in this swamp, but like other boardwalks where we have planted irises, it would be a shame if the public visiting the boardwalk does not get a chance to see this wonderful native Louisiana plant blooming just because none happened to growing nearby”, says LICI board of directors’ member, Gary Salathe.

“Giant Blue" irises blooming at the Lockport, La boardwalk April, 2021.

Photo by Mike Glaspell.

One of the goals of the group is to reintroduce this native plant to the public, which has been part of the culture of south Louisiana for generations. “Prior to all of the road shoulders being sprayed with a herbicide, which started about thirty years ago by the parishes’ road maintenance crews, wild Louisiana irises could be seen blooming for miles in the roadside ditches each spring”, Salathe says. “The younger generation of today did not have an opportunity to experience seeing wild native irises blooming until these boardwalks began being built. We have taken on the job of making sure there are irises growing alongside them. Its very difficult to motivate the public to preserve the wetlands and swamps of Louisiana with all of its native plants and animals if they can not go out and experience the habitat themselves. These boardwalks, which are raised above the swamp, allow that to be accomplished in a safe way,” he added.

Giant Blue irises blooming at the Lockport boardwalk April, 2021.

LICI was introduced to the Lockport boardwalk by two local naturalists, who are also amateur nature photographers; Henry Cancienne and Mike Glaspell. Henry drove fifty miles to attend an open house being held at the Joyce Wildlife Management Area near the Ponchatoula, La boardwalk three years ago during the iris bloom. He encouraged the volunteers he met to consider planting irises at the boardwalk in his hometown of Lockport, La. In 2020 some photos of hummingbirds feeding on the Copper Irises along the boardwalk entrance road were posted on Facebook by Mike Glaspell, which further got the attention of LICI volunteers.

Copper Irises blooming at the Lockport, La. Photo by Mike Glaspell.

A meeting was set up at the boardwalk to see if the site could be included in LICI’s iris relocation program. At the meeting a decision was quickly made that some irises would be brought in and planted as a test to see how they would do before a commitment would be made to plant more.

Mike contacted the landowner, through the landowner's representative - parish councilman Armand Autin, who also consulted with Lafourche parish staff about the proposed iris planting at the boardwalk. The councilman worked with the head of road maintenance

to be sure the road shoulders would not be cut until after the iris bloom. The parish president, Archie Chaisson III, was also informed and he gave his wholehearted endorsement of the iris planting.

Volunteers planting irises during the second planting. Photo by Henry Cancienne.

Cody A. Gray, President & CEO of Louisiana's Cajun Bayou Tourism, Larourche parish’s tourist bureau, also got involved by putting together marketing to be released as soon as the irises began to bloom. The Louisiana's Cajun Bayou Tourism visitor’s center for the parish is located on Hwy 90 only a few miles from the boardwalk. The staff were briefed on the boardwalk and its irises so that they could direct visitors to it.

Near the middle of December, 2020 over 200 irises were planted. The irises came from LICI’s program where irises that are threatened with destruction in their current location are relocated to the safety of a boardwalk. Henry, his wife, Mike and a LICI volunteer got the irises planted. After six weeks it became apparent that the irises were doing well, so a second planting was organized and completed.

All was set and everyone was ready for the iris bloom to begin. The marketing would start to let the public know about the boardwalk and its irises as soon as they started blooming.

Then something happened which foretold of things to come.

Mike had been stalking a bobcat at the boardwalk for the last year trying to get a clear photo of this nocturnal and very wary animal. He finally scored a great shot (seen below) and posted it onto his Facebook page. LICI shared his posting and included a description of the boardwalk and the irises that were planted there. The posting promptly went viral with over 20,000 people having it posted to their Facebook page newsfeed. Needless to say, this put the Lockport boardwalk “on the map”!

Mike Glaspell's "Bobcat at the Lockport Boardwalk" photo that went viral and was posted on over 20,000 people's Facebook page newsfeeds.

As the irises began to bloom an article showed up in a local newspaper and then the boardwalk and its blooming irises were mentioned in a Forbes Magazine online article. It turned out that Cody Gray had sent out a news release about the boardwalk that a number of news sources picked up and included in their articles, including Forbes Magazine.

One of Mile Glaspell's photos showing a hummingbird feeding on Copper Irises

blooming along the road shoulder of the Lockport boardwalk entrance road, April, 2021.

Bumblebee at Copper Iris. Lockport boardwalk April, 2021. Photo by Mike Glaspell

As the iris bloom progressed Henry and Mike kept a steady stream of photos coming into LICI of the blooming irises and the wildlife at the boardwalk, sometimes together, that were posted onto the LICI Facebook page. Some of Mike’s close up photos of hummingbirds and bumblebees feeding at the irises also went viral and suddenly the boardwalk was on birdwatchers and native plant enthusiasts’ radar screen!

All of this was taking place at the same time that the COVID 19 restrictions were being relaxed and everyone was ready to get out and do things on the days when the spring weather was beautiful.

The result was a wonderful turnout at the boardwalk by the public, with many people in the area saying they didn’t know it even existed until they read about the irises blooming on Facebook or in the news.

All of the Giant Blue irises bloomed even though some of them were planted late in the season. The red Copper Irises bloomed along the road shoulder and in the entrance road ditch like they have never done before.

Photo by Mike Glaspell of a River Otter in the swamp at the Lockport boardwalk.

It was all a very huge success.

LICI has plans to do one planting of rescued Giant Blue irises sometime in May and will be back with a significant iris planting this fall.

Who knows, maybe Mike will capture a picture of a black bear frolicking among the blooming irises at the boardwalk next spring and really get crowds of people out !?!


February 12, 2021 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) is in the process of winding down its iris planting projects for the 2020 - 2021 fall and winter Louisiana iris planting season. The season's first iris planting took place at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge on October 21st and the last small plantings should take place within the next two weeks.

Photo Above: 6,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises growing at LICI's iris holding area in early October, 2020.

Starting in late May through July 2020, volunteers on multiple events organized by the LICI collected about 6,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises from properties that have plans for development, as donations from homeowners that removed irises from swamps and planted them on their property or from sites where irises from past rescued events were planted over the last two years. The irises were planted into containers at LICI's iris holding area in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans to strengthen up before being transplanted out into the swamps and marshes starting in the fall. An approximate 2,000 additional irises were brought into the iris holding area in November and December as space became available after plantings in the swamps began, bringing the estimated total number of irises that went out in plantings to 8,000.

Photo on left: The first irises to go out into the marsh are shown being gathered from the iris holding area on October 21, 2020.

The iris bloom typically starts in mid to late March, depending on the weather in February and early March. Colder weather will delay the start of the bloom and warmer weather during this period will cause it to start sooner.

This is the list of the iris planting projects and events that LICI completed during the 2020 - 2021 fall and winter Louisiana iris planting season:

Photos above: The first of four iris plantings that took place over a two month period at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East was completed on October 21st. Volunteers from Limitless Vistas, Common Ground Relief and LICI did the planting.

Photos above: Using volunteers from Common Ground Relief, irises were planted at St. Bernard State Park on October 28th, the day before Hurricane Zeta hit New Orleans. This was the first planting on what will be many more in this new LICI project.

Photo on right: In late November another iris rescue event was held to fill containers at the iris holding area that had been emptied of irises from earlier iris planting events.

Photo on left: In mid-December LICI helped organize an iris planting at the Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail in New Orleans using volunteers from the Master Naturalist of Greater New Orleans.

Photo above: Also in mid-December a small iris rescue event was held in St. Bernard parish in a drainage canal where the parish was considering spraying the water hyacinths with a herbicide because they were starting to block the drainage.

Photo on left and below: In late December the first of three iris plantings by LICI volunteers over a five week period took place at the town of Lockport, La.'s boardwalk.

Photos above: In late December the first of three iris plantings over a one month period at the town of Jean Lafitte, La. Wetlands Trace boardwalk was completed by LICI volunteers.

Photos above: In the first days of January, 2021 an iris planting was completed at the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail trailhead in Breaux Bridge, La. and on the same day irises were planted at the Chitimacha Tribal Nation of Louisiana in Charenton, La. (right).

More information on this planting can be found here:

Photos above: On January 9th LICI did an iris planting as part of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s (CRCL) cypress tree planting event in the Manchac swamp located south of Ponchatoula, La. This was the first iris planting of what we hope will be many more in the coming years with CRCL.

Photos above: On January 13th a group of LICI volunteers planted irises at the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge near Houma, La. These added to the irises that were planted there in 2019.

Photo above: On January 16th LICI organized an iris planting in a freshwater bog at The Nature Conservancy’s Grilletta Tract in Grand Isle, La. Members of the Native Plant Initiative, Grand Isle Garden Club and the Terrebonne Parish Bird Club helped LICI volunteers get the irises planted. This was the second year irises have been planted on this property in what is expected to be a long-term project on The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties.

Photos above: Four days later on January 20th volunteers from Common Ground Relief worked with LICI volunteers to plant irises in the swamp next to the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau's visitor’s center in Morgan City, Louisiana. It was the third iris planting completed there during January.

Photos above: On January 24th a small group of LICI volunteers planted irises at the Joyce Wildlife Management area, which is located south of Ponchatoula, La. This was the first of three iris plantings completed within a three week period. Over 1,000 irises were added to the irises that have been planted there over the last three years.

Photo above: On January 27th LICI organized an iris planting at Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville, La. Volunteers from the St. Tammany Master Gardeners Association, Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans, Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans, Sierra Club of Slidell, Common Ground Relief, Limitless Vistas and LICI volunteers planted over 1,000 irises and 20 cypress trees. This was the third, and largest, iris planting at the site in the last two years.

Photo on right: Two days later LICI volunteers planted irises in a new project at the 40 Arpent Wetlands Observatory in Chalmette, La.

Photos Above: On February 10th LICI volunteers planted irises at the US Park Service's Chalmette Battelfield in Chalmette, La. as the first planting in this new project. The plan is to do a significant iris planting in the fall of 2021 if this test planting does well over the summer.

Photo above: I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises blooming in a remote spot within the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East. This clump of blooming irises started as two small pots of irises planted three years ago by Common Ground Relief as part of their nearby cypress tree planting. The irises had been forgotten until last spring when the photographer happen to come upon them while hiking a trail in the refuge and took this picture. Its what all of the volunteers that planted irises in each location these last five months hope to see for years to come as a result of their hard work.


February 11, 2021 Chalmette, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) completed a Louisiana iris planting at the Chalmette Battlefield on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Thirty clumps of the I. giganticaerulea species of Louisiana iris were planted as a test batch to see how the irises do this spring and summer. LICI's plan, if the irises do well, is to organize a significant planting in the fall by inviting the public to participate.

The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 as the last event in the War of 1812 between the British and the new American nation. The battle was fought between a professional British army and a rag-tag, thrown together, US military force that resulted in a victory for the young United States over what was then a world power. The field that the battle was actually fought on is now a US Park Service site named the Chalmette Battlefield, which is located just downriver from New Orleans.

Photo above: The breastworks that the American troops stood behind to fire on the British troops, who were advancing in formation across an open field, have been reconstructed in the exact location where they were in 1815.

The battlefield was bordered by a cypress swamp on the north with the river batture (wetland) along the Mississippi River on its south side. The site is in St. Bernard parish where Louisiana irises grew in vast numbers within its swamps and marshes throughout history. Because of this, the US Park Service approved the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative planting these native Louisiana irises in a bog that is located along the south side of the battlefield.

Photo on right: The area selected to plant the irises is a freshwater bog located between the loop road and the Mississippi River levee. As shown on the map, this area is near Colonel Rennie's attack, which was a feign meant to confuse the Americans on where the actual main attack would take place further north in the field. Colonel Rennie was killed during the attack.

Gary Salathe, LICI volunteer and board of directors member, summed up the thinking of all involved in the project, "We don't know if the bog existed when the battle was fought in 1815, but its a nice thought that in this small spot, in a field where so much violence and death took place over 200 years ago, beautiful wild Louisiana irises will soon be blooming each spring."

Photo on left: The monument to British generals Pakenham and Gibbs is shown at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England. Both were killed during the Battle of New Orleans.

US National Park Service personnel, lead by staff ecologist Julie Whitbeck, helped LICI apply for the permit to plant the irises. It was only the second permit issued at the battlefield in the last ten years because of the rigorous criteria that is used to consider a proposed project on US National Park Service property. Whitbeck personally guided LICI's permit application through the lengthy and very detailed approval process.

Blaise Pezold, of The Meraux Foundation, introduced LICI to the park personnel and suggested their doing the project.

Photo above: Three of four LICI volunteers planting clumps of irises at the Chamlette Battlefield on February 10th.

Photo on left: Many of the irises were planted along the edge of an area that holds water year-round, except during the driest periods when the soil is still moist.

Salathe reports that the wet area of the battlefield where the irises were planted is very similar to the property where the irises were rescued from, including being bush-hogged twice each year during the spring and autumn dry periods. "The end result is that this location could potentially be used as a place to relocate thousands of irises from that property. It would put them in a new permanently protected home where the irises will be available for the public to enjoy while they bloom", he said.

A US National Park Service Facebook video about the Battle of New Orleans can be found here:

bottom of page