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Updated: May 18

May 7, 2021 Grand Isle, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) has been invited to participate in the planning for proposed improvements to be done at the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. The planning involves multiple groups with an interest in seeing that the properties offer the best experience possible for out of town visitors and local residents that use the trails. They hope to raise enough money to extend the boardwalk, removal of invasive plant species, rebuilding the trail system and adding educational, historical and directional signage.


LICI had prevously committed to work with the Grand Isle Garden Club to increase the number of Louisiana irises growing on the properties.


The first planning meeting was held on Friday May 7, 2021 in Grand Isle. The group toured two key properties with Nature Conservancy's property manager, local historian and community activist, Jean Landry leading the way after a lunch meeting at a local restaurant.


Photo: There is a trail system that connects the seven Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle. There is currently no signage on any of the trails to help trail users find their way. The main east/west trail has historical significance because it was the path that residents on the island used back in time to get from one end of the island to the other before the highway was built. The majority of the trails are unimproved dirt tracks that are in disrepair with many low spots that hold water. This causes hikers to create new paths around the wet spots, which can compact the soil around the tree roots.



LICI has an on-going Louisiana iris project on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties. Joining LICI board member Gary Salathe on the tour and at the meeting was LICI’s board member, Paul Christiansen, who was also representing the Town of Grand Isle. "We are excited to be a part of this effort to enhance these special properties, which are the last remnants of the live oak/hackberry forests that once covered Grand Isle", Salathe said.


Photo: Irises planted by LICI blooming this past April on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. Photo by Paul Christiansen.



The Nature Conservancy purchased the tracts of land on Grand Isle because the forests are some of the last remaining undeveloped property on Grand Isle that are extremely important to migrating birds. The birds land on the trees to rest and feed after flying across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring or as they prepare to cross it again in the fall on their way south.


Photo: Nature Conservancy's on-site property manager, Jean Landry, (on left) points out various plants growing in a fresh water bog on the Griletta Tract to Hilary Collis. Hillary is Associate Director of Philanthropy for the Nature Conservancy. Louisiana irises planted by LICI can be seen in the photo growing among the wildflowers to the left of the boardwalk. The plan is for this boardwalk to be extended to cover an area at its end that holds water after a rainstorm.



The two bird migration seasons bring huge numbers of bird-watchers to the island. The live oak forests on Grand Isle offer them a chance to see numerous species of birds all in one spot as the birds pass through heading north or south, depending on the time of year.


Part of the plan for improvements to the properties is to increase the number and diversity of Louisiana native plants growing there. "This is where the Louisiana iris comes into the picture", LICI board of directors member, Paul Christiansen says.


Photo: A section of the trail is shown that passes through a portion of the Landry/Leblanc Nature Conservancy property. It is a highly improved sand path created by the Town of Grand Isle when they needed somewhere to place sand that was covering sections of Hwy 1 after a hurricane hit the island last year. This is only a small stretch of the long trail system what winds through the seven properties. When the other sections of trails are improved they will not be as wide as this trail.



Paul has worked with Ronnie Sampey, president of the Grand Isle Garden Club, to have LICI's rescued Louisiana irises planted in the Nature Conservancy properties and at other locations on the island. Ronnie attended the meeting on Friday and told the group of the garden club's plans to propagate native plants and wildflowers that are found on the island to use in their projects. He offered to include some of these plants in the effort to increase the diversity of native plants on the Nature Conservancy properties.


Photo: Irises planted by LICI blooming this past April on the Griletta Tract of the Nature Conservancy's properties in Grand Isle, La. Photo by Paul Christiansen.



LICI and the Grand Isle Garden Club have begun discussions on a joint project to set up an iris holding area on Grand Isle to use for planting irises into containers from some of LICI's iris rescue events. The irises will strengthen up in these containers before they are planted out in the field in the garden club's projects.


Native Plant enthusiast groups are growing almost as quickly as are bird-watching organizations. According to those present for the meeting and tour, eco-visitors like this are becoming an important part of the Grand Isle tourist industry, so its a win/win situation for all involved to see that the Nature Conservancy's properties on Grand Isle are maintained and accessible.


Photo: Seth Blitch, Louisiana Coastal and Marine Conservation Director for the Nature Conservancy, talks to the group about the need to have all of the trails in a usable and safe condition so that the public can access the properties to experience and learn about the plant and animal life found there. He said the Grand Isle properties are only one of three, among the thirty tracts of land they own in Louisiana, that are open to the public.









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Updated: May 18

May 1, 2021 New Orleans, La.


The 2020 iris rescue and planting season and the 2021 Louisiana spring iris bloom is now history. The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) had a big year in 2020 rescuing and planting over 8,000 wild native irises. That was followed in April of this year by more people than ever going out to the area refuge boardwalks where we planted irises to see them blooming. It was a huge win/win for everyone involved. It was all made possible our many volunteers that helped out in our projects and through the financial support we received from donations.

We are getting ready to start rescuing irises for planting during the fall of 2021. They'll need to spend a few months at our iris holding area in New Orleans strengthen up before they go back out into the swamps.

We've had requests come in from new locations asking us to plant our rescued irises there. We'd like to do that and continue to add more irises to our existing locations. But to do it, we'll need some help.

We are an all-volunteer run State of Louisiana registered non-profit that aims to have a big impact at a small cost. We have no paid staff and very little overhead expenses. We have no membership, no meetings and no social events, just a volunteer board of directors and the volunteers that participate in our projects. All of our budget goes towards supporting our iris holding area and volunteer events to dig or plant irises.


We welcome any size donation to help with the overhead expenses that we incur with maintaining our iris holding area and putting on volunteer events.

We have a new PayPal account that will allow you to make a donation to us even if you do not have a Paypal account. A credit card will work. Any amount that you can give will be greatly appreciated.

If you would like to help, you can make your donation by clicking here: https://www.paypal.co/donate?hosted_button_id=LZD9X5YHAN7GJ Or by clicking on the "Donate" button at the top/left corner of the banner across our website pages.

Thank you!!

Photos (from top/left to right) LICI volunteers planting irises at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, Volunteers from the Green Team helping out at our iris holding area, Volunteers from various groups helping at our Fontainebleau State Park projects, Volunteers helping to plant irises at our iris holding area.


Photo: The LICI iris holding area with almost all of the containers filled with irises in early August, 2020. By the end of the month each containers was filled.


Photo: These are the locations that we planted irises in 2020 to early 2021.



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Updated: Aug 3

April 27, 2021 New Orleans, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) accomplished a lot this last year, which ended with the wild Louisiana iris bloom a couple of weeks ago. They rescued and planted over 8,000 native I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris, also known as the "Giant Blue iris", during the second half of 2020 until the last irises were planted in March of 2021.


The purpose of their projects is to get wild native irises that are in harm’s way relocated to where the public can safely see them growing and blooming. The ideal locations to accomplish this are along the raised the swamp boardwalks in area refuges and nature preserves. The boardwalks allow the public to safely experience Louisiana's swamps and their unique plants and animals.

Photo: Volunteers from LICI and other non-profits are shown at work planting irises at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in November of 2020.



Many of the volunteers involved in this huge effort barely had enough time to take a break after the last irises were planted before they had to hit the road to see them blooming. For some of them, the first iris projects they worked on were completed three years ago. They said it was very satisfying not only seeing the irises that they planted this year bloom, but also seeing how the irises have multiplied that were planted in previous years.


It was not all good news. In a couple of locations the hurricanes that the area experienced in 2020 knocked back the irises that were planted. "They weren't knocked-out completely, but they are down for the count, for sure, " says Gary Salathe, volunteer and Board of Directors member of LICI. "We have high hopes that they will recover if they can catch a break from having more storms come in this hurricane season", he added.


Salathe said that he saw first-hand and received many reports from the field as the iris bloom was progressing that there were more people out at the swamp boardwalks than in years past. One interesting piece of information that he said came in was that there were many more families with children, teens or young adults going out to the boardwalks this year to see and experience Louisiana’s swamps with its wildlife and fauna. "We’d like to think our news-releases and social media postings about the safety of the boardwalks during the bloom period had something to do with that", Salathe added.


Photo: This picture was sent into LICI by these children's mother as they explored the

US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Teche National Wildlife refuge boardwalk.



"All of this made the hard work done by our volunteers very worthwhile and gratifying. We ran into many of the them out at the boardwalks in April enjoying the results of their labor.

We are hopeful that our efforts helped raise awareness with the public of this important native plant and the threatened habitat they live in. The Louisiana iris has always been part of the culture and history of south Louisiana. Its important that everyone here are able to enjoy the show they put on in the wild each bloom season. As we say, not everyone can get out and wade through the swamps, swatting away snakes and alligators, to see this wonderful, rare native plant, so why not bring the irises to some of their habitat that is safe for the public to see them? That's what we do", Salathe summed up.


LICI has plans to do it all over again this year. They're getting ready to start up iris rescue events for this year. Feel free to contact LICI at licisaveirises@gmail.com if you'd like to help out.


Here are pictures from the iris bloom in April, 2021 at some of LICI's projects:


US Fish and Wildlife Service Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge's

Boy Scout Road boardwalk. Lacombe, La.



US Fish and Wildlife Service Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge's

Boy Scout Road boardwalk. Lacombe, La.



Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries' Joyce Wildlife Management Area boardwalk.

Ponchatoula, La.



Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries' Joyce Wildlife Management Area boardwalk.

Ponchatoula, La.



Northlake Nature Center boardwalk and trail. Mandeville, La.



Northlake Nature Center boardwalk and trail. Mandeville, La.



US Fish & Wildlife Service Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk.

New Orleans, La. (Photo by Paul Christiansen)



US Fish & Wildlife Service Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk.

New Orleans, La. (Photo by Paul Christiansen)



Cajun Coast Visitor's Center. Morgan City, La. (Photo by Henry Cancienne)



Cajun Coast Visitor's Center. Morgan City, La. (Photo by Henry Cancienne)



Town of Lockport, La Wetlands Boardwalk. (Photo by Mike Glaspell)



Town of Lockport, La Wetlands Boardwalk. (Photo by Mike Glaspell)



Nature Conservancy's Griletta Tract trail and boardwalk in Grand Isle, La.

(Photo by Paul Christiansen)



Nature Conservancy's Griletta Tract trail and boardwalk in Grand Isle, La.

(Photo by Paul Christiansen)



Town of Jean Lafitte's Wetland's Trace boardwalk. (Photo by Henry Cancienne)



Town of Jean Lafitte's Wetland's Trace boardwalk. (Photo by Henry Cancienne)



US Fish & Wildlife Service Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge trail

and boardwalk. Houma, La.



US Fish & Wildlife Service Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge trail

and boardwalk. Houma, La.



Fontainebleau State Park. Mandeville, La.



Fontainebleau State Park. Mandeville, La.





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