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Updated: Feb 15

December 13, 2020 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) was invited this fall by the staff of Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail to donate and help plant native Louisiana irises at the park. The date for the planting was set for Saturday, December 13, 2020 after a couple months waiting for the contractor to complete work on his reconstruction of the main pond.

Volunteers from the Master Naturalist of Greater New Orleans, Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans, Sankofa and LICI braved the rainy weather and planted of over 1,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises and twenty cypress trees along the pond bank. Tricia LeBlanc, Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail Program Director, and Tia Divok, Wetland Park & Nature Trails Program Coordinator, organized the event and were there to supervise the work. Gary Salathe, with LICI, delivered the irises and oversaw their planting.

Photo on left: Over 1,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises are shown arriving at Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail for the iris and cypress tree planting event.

The irises came from iris rescue events LICI did in June and July on a tract of land that has plans for development. They have been growing in containers at the nearby LICI iris holding area.

Photo above: Volunteers begin to arrive and sign-in as the rain begins to come to an end.

The volunteers started to arrive while it was still raining. The weather prediction was for the rain to end shortly after the 9 AM start time, which it did. Part of the sign-in process was for each person to fill out a questionnaire to be sure that no one had any symptoms of COVID 19.

Photo above: Work begins planting the irises and cypress trees. Tricia LeBlanc (shown in the center with the dark blue rain coat) is seen supervising the cypress tree planting.

Tia Divok, of Sankofa, kept everyone supplied with irises and cypress trees and made sure everything was going safely and smoothly.

Six or seven volunteers decided to plant just irises while the remainder started planting cypress trees. Gary Salathe, with LICI, supervised the volunteers planting irises.

Photo on right: The irises were planted no closer than 36” from the new cypress trees to give them an opportunity to grow out into the water in the hope that once the cypress trees roots expand out over the next few years the irises and trees can coexist.

The irises were planted in groups of about four to six plants. Many of the irises had four or five new offshoots just starting to grow out from the rhizome, so they will multiply and fill out very quickly over the next two or three years.

The cypress trees were planted with a plastic protective sleeve installed to limit the chance of damage being done by nutria or deer. Deer will often scrape the bark of young cypress trees to mark their territory. Deer tracks were found in the area of this planting last month.

A representative of LICI had the opportunity in October and November to go out to the site to see how work was proceeding once work began on expanding the pond. During both trips he was able to talk to the equipment operator doing the work about how the ideal shoreline for planting wetland plants would be one that had a shallow submerged bottom that extended out about 30” from the bank before it began to drop off into deeper water.

Photo on left: The irises were planted at the waterline so that they can grow out onto the submerged shelf.

Photo above: A section of the pond bank after the iris planting was completed.

Sankofa has plans to do significant plantings of other types of trees and native plants in the coming months. Anyone is welcome to get on their volunteer notification list, which can be found here:

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Updated: Feb 15

December 6, 2020 New Iberia, La.

A representative of the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) along with other interested parties involved in native plants met with the mayor of New Iberia, La., Freddie DeCourt and Cathy Voorhies Indest, President of the Iberia Cultural Resources Association and a local civic booster, on Sunday, December 6th. We really appreciated them taking out time on a cold and rainy Sunday to spend some time with our group.

Photo on left: Mayor Freddie DeCourt enthusiastically explains to the group the city's plans to revamp a section of Bayou Teche's shoreline in the center of the city in a highly visible next to a heavily used bridge.

The stop at the city of New Iberia was part of an all day tour of the Bayou Teche region organized by Peter Patout, a Louisiana iris enthusiast, art and antiques appraiser, historic property realtor and a civic booster of the area.

Photo on right: Cathy Indest looks out over the bayou at the proposed iris planting locations. Cathy is a local civic booster that is usually at the center of anything being done to improve the city.

The purpose of the trip was to investigate opportunities for planting native species Louisiana iris along the shoreline of Bayou Teche as part of the T.E.C.H.E. Project's effort to increase the number of native plants growing along the bayou. The long term goal of this effort is to have landowners improve and stabilize their shoreline by planting native plants instead of building bulkheads or using concrete rip-rap to do the job. Additional benefits of using native plants for this purpose is enhancing the experience of people kayaking on the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, which is part of the National Water Trails System, and to have areas of blooming native plants along the bayou to enhance and preserve insect pollinators.

Photo on left: An area along Bayou Teche is to be revitalized by the city this summer. The city has plans for a small marina and dock to be installed next to the red building seen in the distance. (The marina will be located where the bank of the bayou has been cut down as shown in the photo.) A new sidewalk that is under construction is also shown in the photo. Its being built along the edge of bayou to connect the new marina and the commercial building to the street that the bridge is on. It will allow pedestrians to walk along the bayou to the marina and the commercial building from downtown, which is located just one block away. The shoreline shown in the picture will be cleaned-up and reshaped. Its the area the mayor was proposing for a significant planting of Louisiana irises.

LICI is very interested in the T.E.C.H.E. Project's plans because it fits in with their goal of having native Louisiana irises in view to the public as an educational tool. The goal for the day was to locate spots at key places along the bayou where LICI's rescued I. giganticaerulea irises could be planted to achieve that goal.

A longer term goal is to find or develop a source where native irises can be propagated from seed so that in the future irises can be purchased in large numbers by landowners along Bayou Teche.

The last stop of the morning was to look over potential sites to plant irises along the bayou near downtown New Iberia. T.E.C.H.E. Project's proposed kayak launch/dock, which is scheduled to be installed soon, is one of the locations the group wanted to see. This is just one of a number of kayak launches being installed at intervals over a number of miles along Bayou Teche.

Photo on right: The site for the planned kayak launch and dock being installed by the T.E.C.H.E. Project is shown in the photo off the end of the bridge's wood bulkhead. It is directly across the bayou from the shoreline that is going to be improved. The mayor said they will remove the pieces of concrete rip-rap shown in the photo when the kayak dock is installed so that the area can be used for planting irises and other native plants.

Cathy Indest offered to be the contact person with the city to coordinate the iris and native plant plantings, which will likely take place this coming fall. LICI will work through the T.E.C.H.E. Project to donate the irises and to supply volunteers to help get them planted.

New Iberia is located about 25 miles east of Abbeville, which is home to the I. nelsonii Louisiana iris. Mayor DeCourt and Cathy are very interested in the city becoming the center of all things irises in the Bayou Teche area.

Photo on left: Some of the other attendees of the day's tour are shown, left to right, Charlotte Clarke, executive director of Common Ground Relief, Peter Patout and Patti Holland - who was representing the T.E.C.H.E. Project. Not shown in the photo is Poule d’Eau Kyle, an area iris enthusiast and civic volunteer in nearby Franklin, La. and Gary Salathe, a board of directors member of LICI.

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Updated: Nov 12, 2020

November 4, 2020 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) oranizeda multi-group volunteer day at the USF&WS' Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans east. The volunteers came from numerous groups, including The Friends of the Refuge, Limitless Vistas, Common Ground Relief, the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans and individuals that have signed up to be on the LICI volunteer list. Over 1,300 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises were added to the 2,500 already growing there from three years of plantings at the refuge's Ridgetrail boardwalk.

Photo: The irises arriving at the refuge for the planting event. The 1,000 irises were dug up from the LICI iris holding area by two volunteers the day before ended up not being enough. Later in the morning a group had to spit off from the planting and rush over to the iris holding area to dig up 300 more to finish the day’s project.

The project started three years ago to reintroduce native irises back into the refuge after Hurricane Katrina killed off the last of what was once hundreds of acres of irises back in the 1920’s.

Photo: The group begins work using a step ladder to get down from the boardwalk.

In addition to the Louisiana irises being planted, Common Ground Relief, a local non-profit involved in marsh restoration, donated and planted twenty cypress trees.

Photo: Common Ground Relief volunteers planting cypress trees.

The volunteers were so focused and worked so hard that they ran out of irises after only 1 1/2 hours of work. Work continued on the other side of the viewing platform after a small group of volunteers rushed back to the LICI iris holding area to get more irises,.

Photo: Volunteers working planting irises. The Executive Director of Common Ground Relief, Charlotte Clark, can be seen in the foreground.

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The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative, Inc. is a Louisiana non-profit corporation that has been formed for the purpose of organizing Louisiana iris rescue and planting projects involving wild, native irises threatened with destruction.