June 12, 2020 New Orleans, La.
The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) successfully completed an iris rescue event on Friday, June 12, 2020. Over 2,000 I. giganticaerulea irises, which is a species of the Louisiana iris, were removed from a property located in an area west of New Orleans. The property is zoned and permitted for commercial development and is for sale.
This event was part of a multi-year ongoing LICI project to remove as many of the irises as possible from the property and to relocate them to area refuges and nature preserves. The irises that were collected on the June 12th event were in addition to the estimated total of 15,000 irises that have been removed from the property over the last two years.
The property owners have been very supportive of the effort to relocate their irises to locations where they will be permanently protected. They are kept updated on where the irises are planted in their final home.
The eight LICI volunteers worked hard on what turned out to be one of the most beautiful June mornings in recent years, with the temperature at the start of the event being in the mid 70's, with a steady breeze.
Most of the spots where the irises were dug up had a few inches of standing water. This was due to water being pushed in from Lake Pontchartrain because of tropical storm Cristobal's storm surge raising its level earlier in the week. Fortunately, this was 12" lower than the
high water mark the volunteers found at the site from a couple of days earlier. Iris are actually easier to dig if they are in a few inches of standing water because it loosens up the soil. Its the reason the volunteers were able to remove so many irises in the time that was available.
The irises were taken to LICI's new holding area in New Orleans where they were planted later in the day with the help of additional volunteers. They will be taken from the holding area this autumn and winter and planted in area refuges and nature preserves.
A big "Thank You!" goes out to the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's volunteers that helped out at both locations to make this event a success!
Almost all of the out of state university groups that organize trips for students to come to New Orleans to volunteer have discontinued their plans for the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having local volunteers from all walks of life help fill the gap will allow events like this to continue. Please feel free to email us if you would like to be notified of future LICI volunteer opportunities; firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Volunteers for the morning dig (left to right); Steve and Mary Rooney, LICI summer intern Destiny Simon, Britt Aliperti, Chris Knapps, Andrew Hanna and George Wainright. Not shown is LICI board of directors member Gary Salathe.