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Winter 2022-2023 Tree Planting Project at the Bayou Sauvage Refuge is Completed

January 22, 2023 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) and Common Ground Relief have announced the completion of their winter 2022 - 2023 joint tree planting project at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans, La.

The project began with four three-gallon sweetbay magnolia trees donated and planted by LICI on November 1, 2022 at the refuge. It ended with a small group of LICI's volunteers planting the last 80 bare-root tree seedlings on Monday, January 16, 2023. During the ten-week length of the project, volunteers from multiple groups planted a total of 650 one-gallon potted cypress trees, four three-gallon sweetbay magnolias, and a total of 1,000 live oak, American elm, hackberry, and honey locus tree seedlings. All of the trees were planted in the ridge forest or its adjacent marsh in the boardwalk area of the refuge.

LICI's volunteer, Galya Deblank, is seen planting the first tree of the project, a sweetbay Magnolia, on November 1, 2022. On Monday, January 16, 2023, she was part of a three-person group of LICI volunteers that planted the last 80 tree seedlings.

The first large-scale volunteer event for the tree planting project was held on November 16 and 17, 2022 when trainees from Louisiana Green Corps planted 500 one-gallon pots of bald cypress trees.

Louisiana Green Corps trainees are shown loading up the first batch of 500 one-gallon cypress trees that they planted on November 16th and 17th at the Bayou Sauvage refuge.

The November potted cypress tree planting was funded through a grant by Kosmos Energy to the non-profit Tierra Foundation. The grant was for the Louisiana Green Corps job training program and included funds for supplies, trees, and organizational expenses for this tree planting project. The Tierra Foundation partnered with Common Ground Relief to use the proceeds from the grant to purchase thousands of bare-root cypress tree seedlings, potting soil, tree pots, and nutria guards late last spring for numerous tree-planting projects in southeast Louisiana that were to take place this winter.

The leadership group for the Bayou Sauvage Urban Wildlife Refuge tree planting project with Louisiana Green Corps gathered on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at the refuge to do a walk-through of the project, which started the next day. Photo: (Left to right) Gary Salathe - Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative, Olivia Reynolds - Kosmos Energy, Sarah Mack - Tierra Foundation, Charlotte Clarke - Common Ground Relief, and Josh Benitez - Common Ground Relief.

LICI holds a tree planting permit with the refuge for their two-year partnership with Common Ground Relief to plant trees there. LICI's volunteers scouted out locations for the tree planting, killed off some of the Chinese tallow trees within the planting site in the weeks before, and cut a trail from the boardwalk a few days before the event to make the planting sites easily accessible and safe for the group planting trees. Some of their volunteers also helped with the tree planting during the event.

A Louisiana Green Corps job training program member is seen planting a bald cypress tree on November 16th. Its the first time she had ever been involved in any type of

forest restoration.

A group of volunteers from the University of South Dakota planted an additional 33 one-gallon potted bald cypress trees as part of a Louisiana iris planting event held by LICI at the refuge. Common Ground Relief hosted the student volunteers as they did service activities in the New Orleans area and included the Monday, December 19th iris and tree planting event on their list of activities.

Volunteers with the University of South Dakota are shown working at the Bayou Sauvage refuge on December 19, 2022.

The Ella West Freeman Foundation issued a grant this past spring for the purchase of 1,000 bare-root tree seedlings and to cover the cost of supplies and a small amount of overhead for a Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative/Common Ground Relief joint tree planting project for the winter 2022 - 2023 tree planting season in the Bayou Sauvage refuge. The grant was used to purchase live oak, American elm, hackberry, and honey locus bare-root tree seedlings, along with nutria guards and bamboo support sticks for each seedling. The tree species selected came from observations made on-site at the refuge of the type of trees currently growing there and from a University of New Orleans study completed before Hurricane Katrina of the trees found on the refuge.

Bare-root tree seedlings and supplies are shown that were purchased with funding supplied by the Ella West Freeman Foundation.

On Thursday and Friday, January 12 & 13, 2023, forty Texas A & M University volunteers planted 900 bare-root seedlings, 135 one-gallon potted cypress trees, and 1,000 Louisiana irises. The event was organized by Common Ground Relief. The large group was divided into smaller work crews supervised by volunteers from the university, Common Ground Relief, and LICI.

Part of the bare-root tree seedling planting crew from Texas A & M are shown during the LICI & Common Ground Relief volunteer event held at the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans on Friday, January 13, 2023.

This is the second year of LICI's and Common Ground Relief's partnership to restore the Bayou Sauvage refuge ridge forest. LICI's president and board of directors member, Gary Salathe, said, "This is a great example of how numerous volunteers with diverse backgrounds and their various organizations can come together to do great things. Our project with Common Ground Relief has taken a huge leap forward in accomplishing our goal of restoring this critical ridge forest only because of the help we received from everyone involved. 'Thank you!' goes out to them."

All Texas A & M volunteers are shown after the LICI & Common Ground Relief bare root tree planting volunteer event held at the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans on Friday, January 12 & 13, 2023.



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