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January 28, 2021 Mandeville, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized a Louisiana iris planting at Fontainebleau State Park on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 as part of a long-term project at the park. Volunteers of the St. Tammany Master Gardeners Association, Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans, Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans, Sierra Club's Honey Island Group, Common Ground Relief and Limitless Vistas joined in with LICI volunteers to plant irises and cypress trees near a popular picnic pavilion after they had cleared the area of underbrush.

The manager of Fontainebleau State Park, Fouad Harb, accepted a proposal made to him by LICI in December to clear out some of the vines and grass clumps, plant cypress trees, cut back some bushes, trim the lower branches from the existing cypress trees and plant irises in this prominent location. The idea is to turn this spot in the park into an example of a cypress tree/Louisiana iris freshwater bog over the next few years so that the public can safely see an example of this type of habitat, along with its blooming irises.

By the end of the work on the 27th the volunteers had planted over 1,000 I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris and 20 Bald Cypress trees, after totally transforming the area by clearing out brush and debris.

"Before" photo of the site is on left.

"After" photo is above

The picnic pavilion can be seen in the distance in the photos above. One of LICI's goals for the workday was to open up the iris planting area into view from this pavilion. The idea is that in the spring of 2022 this pavilion would be a great location for some type of public iris event or celebration while the irises are in bloom.

The irises came from LICI’s iris volunteer events this past summer where they were rescued from properties that are slated for development. They are the same species of wild Louisiana iris that is growing in some of the wetlands found within the park.

Photo on left: The usual base station was set up for the volunteer event. It had water, snacks, a first-aid kit and lawn chairs for anyone wanting to take a break. LICI volunteer, Leigh Anne Salathe, is seen manning the base station.

Work began by cutting back the rattle-box bushes and picking up debris and trash.

Photo on right: Tree limbs are being trimmed from the existing cypress trees.

All of the irises seen in the photo were planted last year as a test. They bloomed last spring and then were battered numerous times this past hurricane season from tropical systems that blew through the area with their very high tides. The fact that they not only survived, but are thriving, is what gave LICI the green light to expand the iris planting with the event on the 27th and to move forward with the full multi-year project.

Photo on left: Volunteers work to open up the area near the picnic pavilion by clearing out some of the brush. They then began planting irises in the spaces they created.

The plan is to come back next winter if all goes well with this iris planting to expand it into the areas that were not cleared by the group.

Photo above: Over twenty volunteers took part in this project, with nineteen of them shown in this "Last goodby and job well done!" photo.


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:


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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