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LICI Completes Five Iris Rescues For Nicholls State University Wetlands Project

May 20, 2023 Laplace, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) has completed five Louisiana iris rescues to assemble the irises needed for planting into the Nicholls State University's Wetlands Project. LICI signed onto the project at the Nicholls Farm earlier this year when construction of the project was nearing completion. There are two irises planting events scheduled at the farm for later this month when the irises will be planted.

Photo: The Nicholls State Farm Wetlands Project as seen on May 6, 2023.

The wetlands project is a joint effort between Nicholls State University and Ducks Unlimited. The plan is to pump water from nearby Bayou Folse into one end of the wetlands and have then have plants within the wetlands remove an overabundance of nutrients in the water. The bayou is really just a drainage canal at that upstream location. It drains nearby residential areas - many using individual septic tanks for sewerage treatment, some farmland and sugar cane fields (heavy fertilizer users), and some urban run-off from the town. Once the nutrients are reduced, water from the wetlands will be returned to the bayou and the process will then be repeated. The overall goal is to use it as a demonstration project to show how nutrients can be removed from rivers and creeks upstream in the Mississippi River watershed before they flow into the river. This will help reduce the size of the algae bloom each year in the Gulf of Mexico. A secondary goal is to use the wetlands as a wild duck habitat.

LICI was invited to partner in the project so it could be used as a home for its rescued irises. Louisiana irises remove huge amounts of nutrients from the water and soil in their swamps. The goal is to plant thousands of irises into the project by the end of this year, according to the LICI's Gary Salathe.

To get the irises for the Nicholls Farm project, LICI worked with two other non-profits that have supported their past efforts. Common Ground Relief scheduled an iris rescue with some students they were hosting for a five-day service visit to New Orleans. Limitless Vistas/ Gulf Corps offered to help by doing four iris rescues with their job-training crew.

Photo: Some of the twenty students for The College School in St. Louis, MO, are seen on an iris rescue organized by Common Ground Relief.

Common Ground Relief had an eighth-grade school group in from St. Louis, Missouri, from The College School for a week of service activities in late April. They ended up rescuing over 2,800 irises from a site west of New Orleans that LICI has been working to remove irises during the last few years.

Photo: Part of the Limitless Vistas/ Gulf Corps crew is shown at one of four iris rescues they did during the month of May to help gather the irises needed for the wetlands project.

LICI organized four iris rescues from the same site during the first part of May with Limitless Vistas/ Gulf Corps to get enough irises for the planned wetlands plantings during the last week of May. They collected a total of 3,000 irises.

"We really appreciate the help we received from these two groups to make sure we get off to a great start planting irises into this new project at Nicholls Farm," Salathe says.



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