January 20, 2020 New Orleans
Gary Salathe, with the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI), met with Tricia LeBlanc, director of Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail, this past weekend on a foggy morning at the site of the park in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. The purpose of the meeting was to see if the current small pond that is in the park could support growing I. giganticaerulea species Louisiana irises. The idea is to put a test planting of irises in now to see how they grow in the coming months and then come back later in the year with a much larger planting if they do well in a huge pond that is currently under construction.
The plan would be for this park to become another location to grow rescued species irises where they can be enjoyed by the public, but still be available to be thinned out by the LICI in the future for other restoration projects.
The ambitious plans for the 350' deep by 3/4 mile long park is to have its total of 40 acres developed with a series of connecting narrow ponds running through the length of the park, which will create unbelievable amounts of linear feet of shoreline available for planting irises.
Photo: Sankofa Wetland Park and Nature Trail is located in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. It is shown in the photo as outlined in red.
Funding for the park's construction is completed, with grants from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and the City of New Orleans. The construction of the park should be completed in the next year. The main purpose of the park is highlighting the role of wetlands in absorbing storm-water and reducing land subsidence.
The photo on the right is of the next pond that is currently under construction. It extends to the very far treeline shown in the distance. It shows the incredible amount of linear feet of shoreline that all of the combined ponds will have when the park is completed.
The plan is to keep most of the shorelines in a natural state and only maintain the trails and some areas along the ponds for fishermen to use. They also have plans to put in a small launch for kayaks.
The volunteers from the University of Maryland organized by Common Ground Relief arrived shortly after the meeting was concluded and began planting recently rescued I. giganticaerulea irises, which is a species of the Louisiana iris. The group planted 160 irises. The irises had been removed a couple of months before from a property that has plans for development.
If the irises do well the plan is for LICI to organize more volunteer events later in 2020 to plant up to 2,000 of these irises there. Sankofa Nature Trail and Wetlands may become a very important planting site for rescued irises from LICI projects this year.