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from LICI


Updated: Feb 14, 2021

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;

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.

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Updated: Jun 9, 2020

June 5, 2020 New Orleans, La.

On the morning of Friday, June 5th volunteers set up an iris holding area in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. The lot is owned by Common Ground Relief, a local non-profit engaged in wetland's restoration projects using volunteers from around the country. The lot is next door to Common Ground Relief's wetland plant nursery. They have offered the site to LICI to propagate Louisiana irises for iris restoration projects.

Platforms were created by using cinder blocks and used wooden pallets. The raised platforms will make weeding the containers much easier. Each waterproof black container will act as a mini-swamp to keep the irises in water saturated soil.

The iris holding area is being set up to temporarily hold irises that will be dug up on LICI's iris rescue projects or from donations of irises from the public. The LICI locates wild species irises that are threatened with destruction from properties that are going to be developed. They then organize volunteers to go in and dig the irises up. The irises will then be planted in these containers at this holding area. Since many of the irises came from a habitat that is not the best they are stressed and digging them up further weakens the plants. By having them spend a few months in these containers filled with rich soil and being kept moist they we strengthen up before being moved into their permanent home in area refuges.

The irises shown being planted were dug up the day before in Mandeville, La. by other volunteers from a homeowner's yard. The homeowner had dug up a few wild irises from the swamp near his neighborhood years ago and now they needed to be thinned out. The Louisiana irises were identified as the I. giganticaerulea species iris when they bloomed in March. They will spend the next few months growing in the containers at the iris holding area until they are planted in the area's swamps and marshes. This batch of irises is slated to be used at the Town of Jean Lafitte's wetlands boardwalk and the boardwalk at the Joyce Wildlife refuge, which is located south of Ponchatoula, La.

The volunteers that set up LICI's iris holding area were residents of New Orleans from different walks of life that wanted to help out. If you would like to help on LICI's projects, email your contact information to

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Updated: Jun 20, 2020

May 21, 2020 Covington, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) is very please to announce that Destiny Simon, a senior at Northwestern University of Louisiana, has joined us as an intern for the summer. Destiny's major is biology with a natural science concentration. She is a resident of Abita Springs, La when she's not at the university in Natchitoches, LA.

Destiny is assisting us in forming our non-profit corporation and helping to setup our website, as well as the usual duties of participating in the field with iris rescue and plantings projects.

As the photos show, Destiny received her first taste of the hard work that is required with our projects on May 29, 2020. But she also felt the satisfaction of moving irises from a location where they will be destroyed at some point in the future to a safe environment at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge's boardwalk.

We are looking forward to Destiny working with us this summer. Welcome aboard Destiny!

On May 29th the irises were rescued from a commercial piece of property located just outside of New Orleans where the parking lot was recently extended right up to the edge of a stand of wild I. giganticaerulea species Louisiana irises.

The owner of the property has been very supportive of our removing the irises to a safer and more permanent location.

The plan was for the two person team to remove as many irises as possible and then bring them directly to the Bayou Sauvage refuge for planting.

About three hundred irises were dug up.

After five hours of hot and hard work the irises were in their new home at the Bayou Sauvage refuge.

Photo: LICI intern Destiny Simon is shown on the left and Gary Salathe, founder of LICI, is on the right at the Bayou Sauvage refuge as they finish work. The irises were planted in an area about 75' behind where they are standing. The irises in front of them were planted by volunteers in 2019.

Information on the Bayou Sauvage refuge can be found here:

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