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Updated: Feb 17

February 12, 2021 New Orleans, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) is in the process of winding down its iris planting projects for the 2020 - 2021 fall and winter Louisiana iris planting season. The season's first iris planting took place at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge on October 21st and the last small plantings should take place within the next two weeks.

Photo Above: 6,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises growing at LICI's iris holding area in early October, 2020.


Starting in late May through July 2020, volunteers on multiple events organized by the LICI collected about 6,000 I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises from properties that have plans for development, as donations from homeowners that removed irises from swamps and planted them on their property or from sites where irises from past rescued events were planted over the last two years. The irises were planted into containers at LICI's iris holding area in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans to strengthen up before being transplanted out into the swamps and marshes starting in the fall. An approximate 2,000 additional irises were brought into the iris holding area in November and December as space became available after plantings in the swamps began, bringing the estimated total number of irises that went out in plantings to 8,000.


Photo on left: The first irises to go out into the marsh are shown being gathered from the iris holding area on October 21, 2020.


The iris bloom typically starts in mid to late March, depending on the weather in February and early March. Colder weather will delay the start of the bloom and warmer weather during this period will cause it to start sooner.


This is the list of the iris planting projects and events that LICI completed during the 2020 - 2021 fall and winter Louisiana iris planting season:


Photos above: The first of four iris plantings that took place over a two month period at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East was completed on October 21st. Volunteers from Limitless Vistas, Common Ground Relief and LICI did the planting.


More information on this project can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-iris-planting-in-bayou-sauvage-national-wildlife-refuge



Photos above: Using volunteers from Common Ground Relief, irises were planted at St. Bernard State Park on October 28th, the day before Hurricane Zeta hit New Orleans. This was the first planting on what will be many more in this new LICI project.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/st-bernard-state-park-added-to-the-lici-iris-restoration-project-list




Photo on right: In late November another iris rescue event was held to fill containers at the iris holding area that had been emptied of irises from earlier iris planting events.







Photo on left: In mid-December LICI helped organize an iris planting at the Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail in New Orleans using volunteers from the Master Naturalist of Greater New Orleans.




More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/iris-planting-at-sankofa-wetland-park-and-nature-trail


Photo above: Also in mid-December a small iris rescue event was held in St. Bernard parish in a drainage canal where the parish was considering spraying the water hyacinths with a herbicide because they were starting to block the drainage.


Photo on left and below: In late December the first of three iris plantings by LICI volunteers over a five week period took place at the town of Lockport, La.'s boardwalk.

More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-adds-another-boardwalk-to-its-list-of-projects



Photos above: In late December the first of three iris plantings over a one month period at the town of Jean Lafitte, La. Wetlands Trace boardwalk was completed by LICI volunteers.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-volunteer-event-is-written-about-by-the-the-associated-press


Photos above: In the first days of January, 2021 an iris planting was completed at the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail trailhead in Breaux Bridge, La. and on the same day irises were planted at the Chitimacha Tribal Nation of Louisiana in Charenton, La. (right).


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-in-bayou-country



Photos above: On January 9th LICI did an iris planting as part of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s (CRCL) cypress tree planting event in the Manchac swamp located south of Ponchatoula, La. This was the first iris planting of what we hope will be many more in the coming years with CRCL.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/cypress-trees-and-irises-planted-in-the-manchac-swamp-on-a-crcl-project



Photos above: On January 13th a group of LICI volunteers planted irises at the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge near Houma, La. These added to the irises that were planted there in 2019.


Photo above: On January 16th LICI organized an iris planting in a freshwater bog at The Nature Conservancy’s Grilletta Tract in Grand Isle, La. Members of the Native Plant Initiative, Grand Isle Garden Club and the Terrebonne Parish Bird Club helped LICI volunteers get the irises planted. This was the second year irises have been planted on this property in what is expected to be a long-term project on The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-iris-planting-at-the-nature-conservancy-s-property-in-grand-isle-la



Photos above: Four days later on January 20th volunteers from Common Ground Relief worked with LICI volunteers to plant irises in the swamp next to the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau's visitor’s center in Morgan City, Louisiana. It was the third iris planting completed there during January.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-iris-planting-at-the-cajun-coast-visitors-center



Photos above: On January 24th a small group of LICI volunteers planted irises at the Joyce Wildlife Management area, which is located south of Ponchatoula, La. This was the first of three iris plantings completed within a three week period. Over 1,000 irises were added to the irises that have been planted there over the last three years.


Photo above: On January 27th LICI organized an iris planting at Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville, La. Volunteers from the St. Tammany Master Gardeners Association, Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans, Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans, Sierra Club of Slidell, Common Ground Relief, Limitless Vistas and LICI volunteers planted over 1,000 irises and 20 cypress trees. This was the third, and largest, iris planting at the site in the last two years.


More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/lici-iris-planting-in-fontainebleau-state-park




Photo on right: Two days later LICI volunteers planted irises in a new project at the 40 Arpent Wetlands Observatory in Chalmette, La.








Photos Above: On February 10th LICI volunteers planted irises at the US Park Service's Chalmette Battelfield in Chalmette, La. as the first planting in this new project. The plan is to do a significant iris planting in the fall of 2021 if this test planting does well over the summer.

More information on this planting can be found here: https://www.licisaveirises.com/post/iris-planting-at-the-us-park-service-s-chalmette-battlefied


Photo above: I. giganticaerulea Louisiana species irises blooming in a remote spot within the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East. This clump of blooming irises started as two small pots of irises planted three years ago by Common Ground Relief as part of their nearby cypress tree planting. The irises had been forgotten until last spring when the photographer happen to come upon them while hiking a trail in the refuge and took this picture. Its what all of the volunteers that planted irises in each location these last five months hope to see for years to come as a result of their hard work.

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Updated: Mar 25

February 11, 2021 Chalmette, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) completed a Louisiana iris planting at the Chalmette Battlefield on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Thirty clumps of the I. giganticaerulea species of Louisiana iris were planted as a test batch to see how the irises do this spring and summer. LICI's plan, if the irises do well, is to organize a significant planting in the fall by inviting the public to participate.

The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 as the last event in the War of 1812 between the British and the new American nation. The battle was fought between a professional British army and a rag-tag, thrown together, US military force that resulted in a victory for the young United States over what was then a world power. The field that the battle was actually fought on is now a US Park Service site named the Chalmette Battlefield, which is located just downriver from New Orleans.

Photo above: The breastworks that the American troops stood behind to fire on the British troops, who were advancing in formation across an open field, have been reconstructed in the exact location where they were in 1815.


The battlefield was bordered by a cypress swamp on the north with the river batture (wetland) along the Mississippi River on its south side. The site is in St. Bernard parish where Louisiana irises grew in vast numbers within its swamps and marshes throughout history. Because of this, the US Park Service approved the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative planting these native Louisiana irises in a bog that is located along the south side of the battlefield.

Photo on right: The area selected to plant the irises is a freshwater bog located between the loop road and the Mississippi River levee. As shown on the map, this area is near Colonel Rennie's attack, which was a feign meant to confuse the Americans on where the actual main attack would take place further north in the field. Colonel Rennie was killed during the attack.


Gary Salathe, LICI volunteer and board of directors member, summed up the thinking of all involved in the project, "We don't know if the bog existed when the battle was fought in 1815, but its a nice thought that in this small spot, in a field where so much violence and death took place over 200 years ago, beautiful wild Louisiana irises will soon be blooming each spring."

Photo on left: The monument to British generals Pakenham and Gibbs is shown at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England. Both were killed during the Battle of New Orleans.



US National Park Service personnel, lead by staff ecologist Julie Whitbeck, helped LICI apply for the permit to plant the irises. It was only the second permit issued at the battlefield in the last ten years because of the rigorous criteria that is used to consider a proposed project on US National Park Service property. Whitbeck personally guided LICI's permit application through the lengthy and very detailed approval process.


Blaise Pezold, of The Meraux Foundation, introduced LICI to the park personnel and suggested their doing the project.


Photo above: Three of four LICI volunteers planting clumps of irises at the Chamlette Battlefield on February 10th.


Photo on left: Many of the irises were planted along the edge of an area that holds water year-round, except during the driest periods when the soil is still moist.


Salathe reports that the wet area of the battlefield where the irises were planted is very similar to the property where the irises were rescued from, including being bush-hogged twice each year during the spring and autumn dry periods. "The end result is that this location could potentially be used as a place to relocate thousands of irises from that property. It would put them in a new permanently protected home where the irises will be available for the public to enjoy while they bloom", he said.


A US National Park Service Facebook video about the Battle of New Orleans can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=448435989513259



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Updated: Feb 14


January 28, 2021 Mandeville, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized a Louisiana iris planting at Fontainebleau State Park on Wednesday, January 27th 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.

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