David Muth Leads Interpretive Hike for Members
Although a somewhat brisk Saturday morning, over 25 people showed up at Woodlands Trail and Park on November 22 to hike with David Muth of Orleans Audubon Society. David Muth, a founding member of Woodlands Trail and Park, explained the history and value of the habitat of one of our regions’ last stands of bottomland hardwoods.
Along the hike, David called in a variety of birds and identified trees and vegetation and signs of wildlife. Ten of the hikers remained for an over 5-mile hike along the entire perimeter that included an opportunity to view wild persimmon trees and the WWII Ammunition Magazines in addition to up-close views of native and migratory birds.
Volunteers Make National Public Lands Day a Success!
During September, Woodlands Trail and Park had two Volunteer Work Days to install directional signage and mount Wood Duck Nesting Boxes. On National Public Lands Day, Scouts, 4-H, the XYZ group from Chevron Oronite, volunteers from Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the National Park Service and community volunteers joined with Woodlands Trail and Park board members to work on enhancement projects and re-pot oak seedlings that are destined for planting next spring. McMoRan Exploration provided funds for the Wood Duck Nesting project along with a contribution of Wood Duck Nesting Boxes from the National Wildlife Federation. Funds from Louisiana’s Recreational Trails program were used to purchase directional signage to post at trail intersections. National Public Lands Day falls on the last Saturday of September. Volunteers, state, federal and local agencies work together to participate in this annual day of caring for shared lands.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser assisted in the mounting of a Wood Duck Nesting Box along the greenway and trail and thanked the volunteers for their time and commitment. He apologized for not showing up prepared to work and offered to help in the future with projects at Woodlands Trail-America’s Wetland Birding Trail in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.
Spring Wetland Tree Planting
On April 08, twenty-nine volunteers from Louisiana to California gathered at Woodlands Trail and Park for a wetland tree planting project along the Naval Ammunition Depot trail. During March, volunteers spent hundreds of hours preparing the site that had not been maintained likely long before the military officially dedicated the property to Plaquemines Parish Government in 1963. In addition to providing shirts and gloves for all volunteers, Chevron provided over one hundred native trees from the Chevron Tree Farm located in City Park. Thanks to Eddie Martin of Martin’s Gardening Center, the trees were kept on an irrigation drip while awaiting the planting day.
California State University Channel Islands Returns for Second Assessment of Invasive Species
Dr. Sean Anderson, Professor in Environmental Science and Resource Management at California State University Channel Islands returned to Woodlands Trail and Park in March, 2008 with an assessment team of fifteen students. CSUCI conducted an assessment of frequency and stem density of invasive species following Hurricane Katrina in 2007. Some preliminary treatment measures have been implemented in an effort to tackle the proliferation of invasive Chinese Tallow, Chinese Privet and Chinaberry at Woodlands Trail and Park. Dr. Anderson’s group returned this year to provide post-treatment data that will assist in evaluating removal methods. The Woodlands group was greatly appreciative of the unique opportunity to have standardized pre- and post data to utilize in grant proposals to more adequately address the eradication of invasive species.
Over 1000 Spring Break Volunteer Hours Help Restore Peaceful Escape
For many, College spring break traditionally means heading for the beaches of South Florida, but hundreds of students from colleges and universities across the nation, chose to spend their 2008 spring break giving back to the communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina. During March, over two hundred students spent over one thousand hours at Woodlands Trail and Park in Belle Chasse working on a variety of restoration activities.
March Madness Begins! Team Leaders Help Channel Spring Break Energy
With the approaching of spring break for college students, Woodlands Trail and Park began receiving phone calls from Universities and local and national organizations who wanted to get involved in activities to restore the environment in greenspaces impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The first group of 100 offered by the National Wildlife Federation could not be accepted as Woodlands did not have the operating capacity to manage the group. With the encouragement and problem-solving assistance of Colleen Morgan, Bayou Rebirth Restoration and Education, Team Leader Training sessions were organized to train volunteers to work with and supervise volunteers. The first training session was held at the Plaquemines Parish AgCenter and was followed by a hands-on, educational hike led by Tom Campbell, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Some of the topics covered were safety procedures, trail clearing techniques, invasive species identification and removal, and plant and wildlife identification. As the first training session was attended by three teachers from the Belle Chasse Primary School, Mr. Campbell incorporated both hands-on and educational elements that would assist teachers in maximizing the educational aspects available in the Woodlands Trail and Park “outdoor classroom”.
3rd Woodlands Trail Classic Slated for December 30
The Woodlands Trail Classic – 5K and 1-mile Fun Run family event will be held at Woodlands Trail and Park at 449 F. Edward Hebert Blvd. in Belle Chasse on Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 8 a.m. Following the jump start on the New Year, participants will be entertained by the music of “The Stargeezers” while enjoying refreshments donated for the fundraising event by Algiers Kiwanis Morning Edition, Boomtown Casino, Meme’s Café and Catering, Whole Foods Market and Woodland Plantation. Unique awards to be given to winning participants in a variety of age groups were designed by Debbie Kraemer of DK Clay. In addition to unique awards, lots of random prizes will be distributed. Sponsors for the 3rd Annual Woodlands Trail Classic include Ochsner Medical Center, Chevron Oronite, Jon and Barbara Khachaturian, Venice Port Complex, Wal-Mart Foundation, West Jeff Fitness Center, West Jefferson Medical Center and Whitney National Bank. Numerous in-kind sponsors provided items for goody bags, random prizes and other essential items to contribute to the success of the fund raising event.
Woodlands Trail and Park Restoration Team Receives Coastal America Partnership Award
On Wednesday, November 7, 2007, the Woodlands Trail and Park Restoration Team, partners and community friends gathered on a beautiful, breezy fall day along Plantar’s Canal in Belle Chasse, Louisiana for the Coastal America Partnership Award Ceremony. The awards were presented by Robert A. DeHann, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, John Bowie, Coordinator for Coastal America for the Gulf Coast Region and Virginia Tippie, Director and Founder of Coastal America. Robert DeHann was the Keynote speaker on behalf of the Department of Transportation and the Executive Office of the President. Awards were presented to the following partnering organizations for their participation in the cooperative conservation effort: Algiers Economic Development Foundation, American Heritage Rivers Initiative – Army Corp of Engineers, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Mayor’s Office of Environmental Affairs, Mississippi River Trail organization, Orleans Audubon Society, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Plaqumeines Parish Government, Regional Planning Commission, University of Louisiana Lafayette, Department of Renewable Resources, and Woodlands Trail and Park. The Woodlands Restoration Team was nominated by Doug Meffert, Deputy Director, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research.
The Coastal America Partnership was established in 1992 to protect, preserve and restore our coastal watersheds by integrating federal actions with state, and local government and non‑governmental efforts to address specific problems such as wetlands loss. According to Director of Coastal America, Virginia Tippie, “ The Woodlands Trail and Park Project Team is a striking example of an opportunity that resulted from the identification of critical habitat and community needs, the development of key partnerships, proud environmental stewardship and community involvement all of which resulted in a comprehensive and productive partnership to enhanced our natural environment – a win-win across the board and an example of true partnerships for others to emulate. It is in projects such as this that cooperative conservation comes alive in the real world.”
Washing Away and Woodlands Study Air on Katrina Anniversary
On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2007, community members and area elected officials gathered at the Belle Chasse Auditorium for an evening of remembering and looking to the future. Those in attendance watched award-winning independent producer Christina Melton’s Washing Away , a documentary that illustrates the connection between ever more devastating hurricane damage and Louisiana’s shrinking wetlands. Kerry St. Pe, Plaquemines Parish native and Director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program introduced the movie in which he plays a major role discussing the impact of hurricane damage and methods to combat the disappearing coastline of Plaquemines Parish. Following the movie, former Plaquemines Parish President Benny Rousselle narrated the presentation of a study completed by Tulane City Center that demonstrates the value of preserving coastal forests such as Woodlands Trail and Park.
“Levees are not enough to protect coastal communities from powerful hurricanes” said Aaron Viles, Director Gulf Restoration Network. “Natural storm defenses, such as wetlands, coastal forests, and barrier islands, are essential to the survival of these vibrant Gulf Coast communities yet every 35 minutes we lose a football field’s worth of wetlands to erosion.” Wetlands, barrier islands and cypress forest are an essential buffer zone between powerful storms and the humans and wildlife that reside along the Gulf Coast but these natural defenses are disappearing.
Woodlands Trail and Park Receives Coastal Stewardship Award
On May 11, 2007, Woodlands Trail and Park’s efforts in “Creating a Legacy” for future generations were honored by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Woodlands Trail and Park Board Members, Katie Brasted, Carol Osborne Cowley and Paul Richard were present at a banquet held at the LSU Faculty Club in Baton Rouge to accept the Coastal Stewardship Award for “preserving, protecting and celebrating the natural beauty and cultural treasures within a 10,000-acre peninsula in the Metropolitan New Orleans area.” CRCL’s Board Chairman, Woody Crews, presented this prestigious award that came in the form of a hand-carved Egret. Woodlands Trail and Park was nominated for the award by Edgar Veillon, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Representative to the National Wildlife Federation.
Plaquemines Parish Councilwoman Lynda Banta attended the event with Woodlands Trail and Park Board members and guests. Woodlands Trail and Park’s smart growth regional efforts have gained increased National attention during the past several months following the award for the 2006 Conservation Organization of the Year from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. With the support of partners, Algiers Economic Development Foundation and Our Lady of Holy Cross College, the organization was nominated for the Preserve America Award and has recently received notice of nomination for the Coastal America Award by Doug Meffert, Deputy Director, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research.
ULL Students Contribute to “Creating a Legacy” in Woodlands Trail
University of Louisiana Lafayette students studying under the direction of Dr. Barbara Benson, Department of Renewable Resources, returned to Woodlands Trail in April 2007 to begin construction on a interpretive Kiosk. During a visit in March 2007 to conduct site assessments for parking areas, an interpretive center and other potential project amenities, the students empathically suggested that they be allowed to come up with a hands-on, permanent project to help the Woodlands Trail move forward. They settled on the construction of an interpretive Kiosk near a grouping of ten World War II Ammunition Magazines along Woodlands Trail in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Travis Trahan, a student in Dr. Benson’s class, secured donations for the construction project from Lowe’s Home Improvement in Lafayette. He organized all necessary tools and supplies necessary to function in the forest without electricity. The students are preparing interpretive materials to post on the Kiosk to inform others of the history of the former Naval Ammunition Depot Property.
California State University Channel Islands Conducts Survey for Woodlands
In what seemed to Woodlands Trail and Park as something not too short of a miracle, Dr. Sean Anderson and his fifteen students in Environmental Science and Resource Management from California State University Channel Islands arrived at the Woodlands site on March 23rd to conduct an invasive species survey. Woodlands Trail and Park learned of the arrival of the students in need of a Service/Learning Project from an email forwarded by Brenda Puckett, Hands of Hope in Belle Chasse. After seven months of searching for a group with these specialized skills, Woodlands Trail and Park found the chances of such an offer almost too good to be true. The students who were coming to New Orleans to study Wetland Restoration and Management were committed to spending a portion of their time “giving something positive back to the community” said Dr. Sean Anderson of CSUCI. The program at CSUCI places an emphasis on integrative approaches, experimental and service learning to prepare students for on-site work after graduation.
After Hurricane Katrina removed the canopy from the forest, there has been an increased growth of invasive vegetation, particularly on the outer edges of the property dedicated as Woodlands Trail and Park Bird Sanctuary. Seven months ago, Woodlands Trail and Park launched a collaborative effort with ConocoPhillips, a long-time corporate friend, and consultation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Orleans Audubon, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other partners to develop a plan for assessment, treatment and follow-up to tackle the growth of invasive species. This collaboration resulted in the submission of a grant proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in an attempt to obtain funds to assist with carrying out the plan. The NFWF has asked for a full proposal. In addition to matching funds, the Woodlands group was in need of an organization to conduct the baseline assessment and develop the protocol for post-treatment and follow-up. Long-term plans include an educational component to work with area students in identifying native and invasive species and participating in future restoration activities. The arrival of the CSUCI students has given the Woodlands group the long awaited opportunity to move forward with the full proposal. Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program has agreed to assist Woodlands in organizing the full proposal.
Woodlands Trail and Park Named Conservation Organization of the Year
Gonzales, Louisiana. Woodlands Trail and Park was honored as the Conservation Organization of the Year 2006 at the 43rd Recognition Banquet of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF). Conservation groups, sportsmen, environmentalists and natural resource management professionals from throughout Louisiana convened at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales for LWF’s 68th Annual Convention Conference. Don Dubuc, Master of Ceremonies for the event, described the accomplishments of Woodlands Trail and Park that earned its recognition by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation for “outstanding contributions to the wise use and management of Louisiana’s Natural Resources”. Mary Enright nominated the organization.
Dubuc introduced the organization’s award by describing the organization’s history and accomplishments. ”Currently recognized as one of three American Heritage Rivers Initiative “Keystone” projects for Louisiana, [Woodlands Trail and Park] has worked over the past eight years to unite the river communities of Orleans and Plaquemines Parish with a series of educational, recreational and historical greenways in one of Southeastern Louisiana’s last stands of bottomland hardwoods. Woodlands Trail and Park is a nonprofit, 501-C-3 organization that began as a ambitious grassroots regional effort in 1997 to plan for smart growth while preserving, protecting and celebrating the natural beauty and cultural treasures within a 10,000-acre peninsula in the Metropolitan New Orleans area. The area’s beauty stems from the natural characteristics of water flowing inward from the river and forming a natural basin for the collection of water and thus creating the habitat for wetland flora and fauna.
University of Louisiana Lafayette Students Conduct Site Assessments
Dr. Barbara Benson and her University of Louisiana Lafayette students in Naturalist and Docent Practices have committed their assistance to Woodland Trail and Park for the Spring Semester. During the previous year, ULL students got “real life” experience with GPS equipment by helping to identify the trails following Hurricane Katrina. This semester students are focusing on one of the next steps for Woodlands; that of conducting site assessments for parking areas and a potential Interpretive Center.
Mignon Faget – Woodlands Trail Palmetto Pin Released on World Wetlands Day
In recognition of World Wetlands Day on Friday, February 2nd, Woodlands Trail and Park board members unveiled the new design for Mignon Faget-Woodlands Trail and Park Palmetto Earrings at Jeff’s Haberdashery. Brasted expressed appreciation to ConocoPhillips, a long-time corporate sponsor, for underwriting the current Palmetto design. Gratitude was also expressed to Jeff Chouest who joined Woodlands Trail and Park in “Creating a Legacy” for future generations by selling the Palmetto jewelry in both his store in Aurora Village on the West Bank and on the East Bank on Severn. Betsy Brien, Public Affairs Director for ConocoPhillips, attended the event to emphasize the company’s support for the regional effort of Woodlands Trail and Park to establish greenways and trails in the peninsula formed by Orleans and Plaquemines Parish. Brasted acknowledged that it is such partnerships of nonprofit organizations, corporations such as ConocoPhillips, family businesses such as Jeff’s Haberdashery and governmental agencies working together that will bring quality of life efforts such as Woodlands Trail and Park to fruition. The Palmetto earrings are being sold now through May, America’s Wetlands month at a below retail cost.