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2021 Louisiana Iris Bloom at Area Refuges: LICI says "Mission Accomplished!"

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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