The Louisiana Iris

What we typically refer to as the Louisiana iris actually consists of five species native to Louisiana and surrounding regions in the Southeastern United States. Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris giganticaerulea, Iris hexagona and Iris nelsonii are known as the Louisiana irises. These five species participate in interbreeding which results in the variety of irises we grow today.

It is suggested to plant Louisiana iris between the months of August and September when they are dormant for optimal results. However, if you prefer to pick out the colors and types of flowers, it is best to wait until the flowers are in bloom to be sure of what you are planting. Garden cultivation and hybridizing have caused Louisiana iris to bloom in shades of blue, red, yellow, pink, brown, white, purple, and more. The wide range of colors and native quality make it an attractive addition to aquatic gardens and ordinary flower beds. Louisiana irises will grow best with as much direct sunlight as possible.

Within their native habitats, irises often grow along freshwater bayous and sloughs. This wetland vegetation has little tolerance for salt water. The Louisiana iris is at risk due to dredging through wetlands leading to saltwater intrusion. CWPPRA hydrologic restoration and freshwater diversion projects help regulate salinity and restore the natural hydrology of wetlands, ultimately preserving the iris as well as other native plants and animals. Learn more about how to #ProtectOurCoast and its native species at lacoast.gov.

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National Wildlife Refuge Week

This week’s Wetland Wednesday highlights National Wildlife Refuges in honor of

National Wildlife Refuge Week

So, what is a national wildlife refuge? A national wildlife refuge is a designated area of land which is protected and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These public land and water areas are dedicated to conserving wildlife and plants, while providing outreach and educational opportunities to inform the public on habitats and species relevant to the local area. These refuges manage a broad range of landscapes/habitat types such as wetlands, prairies, coastal and marine areas, and temperate, tundra, and boreal forests; as a result, each different habitat type attracts its own web of inhabitants. Many of the national refuges are responsible for rising numbers of endangered species, such as whooping cranes in Louisiana, which are federally protected and closely monitored. National Wildlife Refuges manage six wildlife-dependent recreational uses in accordance with National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week by taking part in recreational activities and efforts to maintain safe, sustainable areas for local wildlife.

Click here to find a National Wildlife Refuge near you!

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CWPPRA

Did you know:

CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.

Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!

BVPA Visionary Water Symposium 2016

The Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association (BVPA) is an organization which creates awareness of our natural environment by providing education and outreach to the general community about ways to conserve, protect and enjoy the Bayou Vermilion Watershed. The BVPA hosts an annual festival to commemorate and celebrate the Vermilion River as a cherished working river which contributes to Lafayette and Vermilion parish by confluences of small bayous in St. Mary and St. Landry parish. The theme of BVPA’s 3rd Annual Water Weekend on the Vermilion was “Backyard to the Bayou” which included a visionary water symposium directed toward understanding your role as the general public in the preservation of the river.

This year, the BVPA worked toward answering the question on many resident’s minds-How can we best inform and involve the community in preserving the bayou? In an attempt to answer this question, the water symposium discussed opportunities and threats for the Bayou Vermilion by presenting a series of distinguished speakers. Speakers include Peter Mayeux, owner of All Seasons Nursery and Landscaping, who spoke on ideas for best management practices on an individual’s property, followed by Rusty Ruckstuhl, landscape architect with Grassroots Landscaping, who discussed ideas and concepts of homeowner water management irrigation and drainage.  Michael Cullen, landscape architect with Land Architecture, LLC.; Pamela Gonzales Grainger, landscape engineer with Macbad Engineers; as well as Jeff Foshee and Teddy Beaullieu, Southern Lifestyle Development, each discussed relevant topics of their field for considerations toward sustainable community development. John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Brad Klamer, New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, each gave insight into current successful projects in their respective regions, followed by Donald Sagrera, Teche-Vermilion Water District; David Cheramie, Bayou Vermilion District; and Bess Foret, Lafayette Consolidated Government, who discussed management of the bayou. The 3rd annual visionary water symposium closed with a panel discussion including Bess Foret, Michael Cullen, Pamela Gonzales Grainger, and Daniel Didier, where views were exchanged on how to involve the community in preserving the Bayou Vermilion.

The Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act’s Public Outreach staff attended the symposium and distributed various informational publications to symposium attendees.

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Plants of the Wetlands

smooth cordgrassFound at the interfaces of land formations and water, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) is an herbaceous, native grass that densely inhabits shorelines. Compact, vegetative smooth cordgrass colonies grow along shorelines and inter-tidal flats of coastal wetlands such as canal banks, levees, marshes, barrier islands, and other regions of soil-water interface. This grass is highly adaptable to a variation of water depths and salinity levels making it a resilient species heavily used for coastal restoration. With an extensive rhizome system, smooth cordgrass is also highly effective as a soil stabilizer for loose soils, contributing to anchorage of the plants and sediment, as well as decrease of erosion effects. Smooth cordgrass acts as a natural buffer which dissipates energy of storm surge and wind impact to interior lands.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act frequently uses smooth cordgrass plugs during vegetative plantings due to the plant’s insensitivity to water and salinity levels, and its success in significant erosion protection to shorelines.

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Marsh Maneuvers

Marsh Maneuvers is an education program focused on increasing the interests and knowledge of the younger generation toward coastal ecology and the biology of the coastal area. The program is a four week series camp in which each week, four parishes send high-school 4-H students to participate in a four-day camp. LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, are sponsors of the Marsh Maneuvers program held at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, LA. The 64 students experience activities such as airboat tours of natural marsh ecosystems, trolling for aquatic life, learning about both native and invasive vegetation and wildlife, and understanding biological processes on the coast.

On July 19 and 26, the CWPPRA Public Outreach staff gave a presentation and distributed a multitude of published materials to the attendees of the 2016 Marsh Maneuver camps. The presentation focused on CWPPRA’s selection process, projects in southwest Louisiana, and various methods used for restoration. While the majority of coastal erosion occurs in Louisiana, the entire country falls victim to its effects. CWPPRA believes that it is imperative to be aware of the natural and anthropogenic impacts to coastal regions and educate the youth to be ambassadors for restoration of the coast.

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Invasive Species of Wetlands

Invasive Species

Wetlands are natural ecosystems that provide an abundance of wealth to not only it’s inhabitants, but also to surrounding communities. Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause damage. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, as well as endangered species who rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival.

The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island applesnails, and nutria. The invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands in some way; CWPPRA strives to protect the wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species dominance and health within the wetlands.


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