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.

Wetland Plants

Plants are a vital piece of healthy and sustainable wetland ecosystems. Plants are the base of the food chain and can build new layers of organic material on top of wetlands which helps them keep pace with subsidence and rising waters. Wetland vegetation reduces erosion primarily by dampening and absorbing wave and current energy and by binding and stabilizing the soil with roots. Coastal wetland plant species are indicators of soil and hydrologic conditions. The amount and salinity of water in an area influence which plants grow there. Scientists often classify Louisiana marshes into four types: fresh, intermediate, brackish, and saline.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act puts native wetland plant benefits to use through restoration techniques that include vegetative plantings. Vegetative planting projects are used both alone and in conjunction with barrier island restoration, marsh creation, shoreline protection, and sediment and nutrient trapping restoration techniques. These projects use flood-and salt-tolerant native marsh plants that will hold sediments together and stabilize the soil with their roots as they become established in a new area.

11437407584_6e9be67e51_z
BA-38 Barataria Barrier Island Complex Project: Pelican Island and Pass La Mer to Chaland Pass Restoration

 

 

 

 

Invasive species

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Invasive species (harmful non-native species) are one of the most significant drivers of global change. Consequently, they can have substantial impacts on the economy, infrastructure, and humans. Society must address invasive species as a priority, which is exactly what National Invasive Species Awareness Week intends to do. The objective of National Invasive Species Awareness Week is to bring attention to the impacts, prevention, and management of invasive species – and all those who are working toward healthy, biodiverse ecosystems.

Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, including endangered species that 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 apple snails, and nutria. Invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands by out-competing native species for food and natural resources, often without any natural predator or control to halt the resulting aggressive spread through an area. CWPPRA strives to protect wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species’ dominance and health within the wetlands.

For a full list of Invasive species in Louisiana, click here.

CWPPRA continues to raise awareness and identify solutions to protect our wetlands by implementing projects to target invasive wetland species such as the Coastwide Nutria Control Program and Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility.

 

 

LEEC 2017

The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Environmental Education Association hosted the 20th Environmental Education State Symposium on February 3-4, 2017 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Baton Rouge, La. The theme of this year’s symposium was “protecting Louisiana’s endangered species.”

The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) provides environmental education news from across Louisiana, including information on environmental education programs, workshops, and grant opportunities.  The state symposium furnished opportunities for formal and non-formal environmental educators from Louisiana and surrounding states to meet and share teaching techniques as well as multiple concurrent sessions for various topics and grade levels. Keynote speaker Dr. Jessica Kastler, Coordinator of Program Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Marine Education Center, used individual cases of endangered species to engage the audience in explorations of the process of science while cultivating environmental stewardship. In addition to the keynote speech, presenters in 15 concurrent sessions provided lesson demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and/or exemplary programs. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach Staff was among exhibitors with a multitude of materials to assist teachers of all grade levels in furthering their students’ knowledge in environmental education and coastal protection.

RAE Conference 2016

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation. RAE member organizations restore coastal habitats in 11 estuaries and 16 states nationwide. RAE is also involved in the economics and valuation of estuaries, blue carbon, living shorelines, national advocacy, and a wide range of coastal restoration issues. The Coastal Society (TCS) is an organization that is dedicated to actively addressing emerging coastal issues by fostering dialogue, forging partnerships, and promoting communications and education. TCS is comprised of private sector, academic, and government professionals and students who are committed to promoting and effectively improving management of the coasts and ocean.

Restore America’s Estuaries and The Coastal Society hosted the 8th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and the 25th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society on December 10-15 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, La. The Summit is an international gathering encompassing all disciplines within the coastal and estuarine restoration and management communities. RAE and TCS  worked with 200 partnering and supporting organizations to develop the Summit program and welcomed more than 1,200 attendees from the restoration and management communities: non-profit and community organizations, Indian Country, academic and research institutions, businesses with an interest in the coast, and agencies from all levels of government. Restoration and management-interested groups or individuals gathered for an integrated discussion to explore issues, solutions, and lessons learned in their work. The theme of the 2016 conference, “Our Coasts, Our Future, Our Choice,” reflected the environmental, economic, and cultural importance of our coasts to residents of surrounding areas and to the nation as a whole.

To initiate the conference’s 550 oral presentations in 110 sessions, as well as 200 poster presentations, the Marc J. Hershman Opening Plenary session on “The Gulf of Mexico- Proving Ground for Regional Recovery Strategies” discussed how restoration in the Gulf is faring as enormous resources start to pour in. The subsequent days highlighted climate change, economic vitality, as well as coastal communities across the nation and the ecosystems they rely upon through sessions, a coastal film series,  and science communications coffee breaks. The closing plenary session covered “Changing Tides: What the New Congress and Administration Mean for Advancing Coastal Restoration and Management” with a panel discussion from leaders in coastal conservation, communications, and climate change policy. Among the 80 exhibitors was the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act. The CWPPRA exhibit debuted two new posters in the “Protect Our Coast” poster series campaign with accompanying banners in our photo booth, in addition to an array of available CWPPRA publications. As a follow up to the previous Brown Pelican and Louisiana iris posters, a coastal sunset scene and blue crab were each depicted. Participants were able to select from a variety of props to hold or wear while posing in front of the campaign poster banners. Participants posted their photos on multiple social media platforms with the campaign hashtag #ProtectOurCoast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Ocean Commotion 2016

oc-01The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program hosted its annual educational, coastal-based event, Ocean Commotion, on October 27 at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. The primary purpose of Ocean Commotion is to give students the chance to learn about and touch the products of the sea and coast—the aquatic animals, plants, and minerals—upon which Louisiana’s citizens are so dependent. In attendance were 2,138 K-8 students, 121 teachers and 139 chaperons  from East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and Assumption parishes.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the connection between students and the coast by providing the opportunity to become “hands-on” with activities that foster interests in and curiosity for Louisiana’s passive shoreline environments. Among the 70 exhibits from universities, non-profits, state and local governments, student clubs, science and museum centers and K-12 student exhibitors was the CWPPRA Mysterious Wetland Wonders activity.  Participants were encouraged to reach inside the seven mystery boxes, read clues, and try to identify the wetland item hidden inside each box without peeking! The mystery items included a seashell, apple snail shell, oyster shell, cypress knee, Spanish moss, nutria pelt, and a magnolia seed pod. In order for future generations to effectively protect our oceans, coastlines, and wetlands, learning about the importance and benefits of each is essential.

Wild Things Festival 2016

On October 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted the 19th Annual Wild Things Festival at the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Headquarters in Lacombe, La. This exciting family-friendly event gives the community an opportunity to engage in outdoor activities while celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week. This free public event included canoe and pontoon boat tours, hayrides, live animals, wildflower walks, kids activities, bird house building, live music, and a youth wildlife art competition.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach staff was among the 40 exhibitors providing hands-on activities to encourage knowledge of the Louisiana outdoors. In order to accurately portray the importance of aquatic, coastal regions, the CWPPRA staff utilized an ocean character, Sid the Restoration Squid, whose six unique legs each represented a different restoration method.  The six restoration methods include barrier island restorations, marsh creations, shoreline protection, hydrologic restoration, freshwater and sediment diversions, and terracing.  Each leg consisted of a distinct craft material that would correspond with a restoration method, in which children would assemble and personalize their own squid.  Each child’s personal squid was accompanied by an explanation guide of CWPPRA’s efforts to restore, protect, and/or create Louisiana’s wetlands.