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US Park Service Asks LICI to Participate in a Plant Assesment Study at the Chalmette Battlefield

January 12, 2022 Chalmette, La.

The US Park Service has asked the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) to participate in a park-wide vegetative assessment study they are doing at the Chalmette Battlefield, which is part of the National Park System. A count and location of the Louisiana irises at the battlefield is needed to complete the assessment. They thought that our help would speed up the study and make if more accurate since LICI's volunteers may be able to spot iris plants among the other vegetation better than others.

LICI volunteer, Kristy Wallisch, has volunteered to be the lead "investigator" for LICI's US Park Service's Chalmette Battlefied iris restoration project. She will be LICI's representative on the park's battlefield-wide vegetative assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to document all of the different types of plants growing within the park. Kristy has agreed to take on the job of counting the irises and documenting their location within the battlefield. She has also written LICI's 2021 annual report of their activities and observations at the park as part of LICI's permit to have a project there.

One small area is shown of the Louisiana irises growing in the middle of the Chalmette Battlefield. The photo was take November 13, 2021, a couple of weeks after the field was bush-hogged. The irises are difficult to tell apart from other other grasses growing in the field when they are not blooming.

LICI volunteers discovered Louisiana irises growing in the center of the battlefield last year where the community of Fazendeville once stood. The irises had been hidden from view for decades because of their location being distant from the roadway that passes through the battlefield. The discovery of the irises is one of the reasons that the US Park Service launched their plant assessment study.

During the bloom season in early April the other grasses in the field begin to grow, making the irises even more difficult to see from the distant roadway. The purple color of the irises also helps to obscured them from a distance.

Since the battlefield is bush-hogged only twice each year, once in the summer and one in late fall, there would be no reason for any of the park staff to be out in the field during the iris bloom in April to discover them.

LICI has proposed moving some of these irises closer to the roadway so that they can be easily seen by the public when they bloom. A decision on this proposal will not be made by the Park Service until the assessment is completed in a couple of months.

"We really appreciate Kristy heading up this important project for us. What she will be doing will help what we now call the "Fazendeville Irises" to one day become a live exhibit of this important part of the battlefield's history." says LICI's Gary Salathe.

Kristy Wallisch hard at work planting a test patch of irises during LICI's first iris planting at the Chalmette Battlefield on February 10, 2021.



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