LICI Invited to Participate in Grand Isle Tourism Initiative
Updated: Dec 16, 2022
February 11, 2022 Grand Isle, La
Two representatives of the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) participated in a tour of Grand Isle on Friday, February 11, 2022 organized by a group that is interested in increasing the tourist industry there by finding places that would attract eco-tourist. Eco-tourism is a fast growing part of the tourist industry nationally and would help to augment Grand Isle’s fishing and beach tourist attractions.
The participants of the tour from the New Orleans area met in the town of Jean Lafitte where they boarded a Jefferson Parish sheriff's office boat that was arranged to take them to Grand Isle.
LICI board of directors members, Paul Christensen and Gary Salathe, Jefferson Parish at-large Councilman, Ricky Templet, and representatives of The Nature Conservancy, LSU Sea Grant, Grand Isle Garden Club (Restore Grand Isle) and the Jefferson Parish Visitor’s Bureau took part in the tour. Melinda Bourgeois, owner of Travel Central - a travel agency, and an owner of a vacation home in Grand Isle, worked with Councilman's Templet office to organize the trip.
Jefferson parish councilman, Ricky Templet is seen talking with the organizer of the trip, Melinda Bourgeois.
The centerpiece of the effort to attract eco-tourist is the Nature Conservancy's Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve on Grand Isle. This 35 acre live oak tree grove is the last of what once covered the entire island. It is a critical habitat for birds to rest once they have migrated across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring or to rest before they start their return trip in the fall. It attracts bird watchers from around the country.
The group is shown walking on the Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Tract of the Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve on Grand Isle.
LICI was invited to participate in the trip to Grand Isle because of the iris restoration project we have underway on the Grilletta Tract of the Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve. It received some national attention within the Nature Conservancy's newsletter and Facebook page this past spring and is now being seen as a key tourist draw during late March and early April as the irises bloom.
Grand Isle Garden Club president, Ronnie Sampey and LICI's Paul Christensen, is seen looking over some of the irises in LICI's project on the Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Tract of the Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve.
LICI also heavily publicized this fresh water bog and its blooming irises this past spring. They have since added 1,400 more irises, so expectations are high for the iris bloom this year and the people it may bring to Grand Isle to see it.
Louisiana irises in LICI's iris restoration project are shown on the Nature Conservancy's Grilletta Tract of the Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve. The irises planted in 2019 and 2020 all survived Hurricanes Zeta and Ida.
LICI is also part of a group that is working on plans for a connecting path through all of Grand Isle Nature Conservancy's tracts of land, including installing signage.
The Nature Conservancy's Lafitte Woods Nature Preserve is highlighted on the informational display.
LICI's Gary Salathe looks over the future site of the Grand Isle Garden Club's tree and plant nursery with club president, Ronnie Sampey. FEMA will be tearing down the house and clearing the land. The nursery will be installed once that is completed.
LICI's Gary Salathe said, "We are excited that our lowly irises may play a key role in the future to help Grand Isle recover from the serious set-back of Hurricane Ida, which severely impacted the western half of the island." He added that LICI has plans to add another 1,500 irises this year to the Grilletta Tract in partnership with the Grand Isle Garden Club.