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LICI Tours Parts of Privately Owned Abbeville Swamp - Home to The I. Nelsonii Iris

April 10, 2023 Abbeville, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) was invited last month by one of the families that own the Abbeville Swamp, near Abbeville, La., to tour portions of their swamp. The swamp is a privately owned swamp that is the only place in the world where the I. nelsonii species of the Louisiana iris grows in the wild. The iris' common name is the Abbeville Red.


The visit was postponed until the irises in the swamp were blooming, which began at the end of March. LICI organized a small group to do the tour last week on Wednesday, April 5th, 2023.

Photo: (Left to right) Randall Perrin, one of the family members of the owners of the swamp, Gary Salathe, LICI president, Kent Benton, LICI volunteer and iris enthusiast, Forest Benton, LICI volunteer and Mark Schexnayder, president of the Society for Louisiana Irises are shown just before beginning their walk into the Abbeville Swamp on April, 5th. Photo by Henry Cancienne.


LICI invited Mark Schexnayder to join the tour of the swamp. He is retired from the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, works for Batture LLC, an environmental engineering company, and is president of the Society for Louisiana Irises. While he was working with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries (WL&F), Mark participated in several trips to the Abbeville Swamp as part of the annual monitoring the WL&F was doing of the irises growing in the swamp. He also helped organize a WL&F-sponsored planting of some I. nelsonii irises at the Palmetto Island State boardwalk in 2011.

Photo: I. nelsonii irises are shown growing in their natural habitat at the Abbeville Swamp on April 5th. Photo by Henry Cancienne.


The Friends of the Palmetto Island State Park has accepted LICI's offer to take over the management of the irises at the park's boardwalk and to increase their numbers. LICI has submitted a proposal to the Department of State Parks to accomplish these goals. The Friend's group is also discussing with LICI the idea that they could become a partner in the project by supplying funding to cover LICI's expenses for the project.

Photo (Left to right) Kent Benton, Forest Benton, and Gary Salathe are seen in a clump of Abbeville Red iris on April 5th in the Abbeville Swamp. Photo by Henry Cancienne.


"We are hopeful that our tour of the Abbeville Swamp will be the beginning of our learning how LICI, other interested groups, and individuals can help the landowners preserve their special property and their special irises within it, " Salathe sums up.

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