City of Covington Nature Trail has a restorative plan

Keep Covington Beautiful, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping our town pretty and clean, has just recently made a giant leap forward in its work to realize the vision of its master plan for the Blue Swamp Creek Nature Trail. For well over five years the board of trustees has formulated a design that is today closer to being a reality, thanks to recent work executed by Kotteman Tree and Forestry services. The Nature Trail, a City Park located on Deporres Rd in the north part of town, is a demonstration garden and educational venue modeled on the local ecology of the Piney flatwoods that once ran interrupted from the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain to where the hills start showing up, a tad north of Covington. If you haven’t been, you should check it out. Bring a kid or a retiree with you. Its a cool 7 acre garden.

Thursday and Friday last week for me was spent guiding Mr. Kotteman and his tree mulching machine through our design for the woodland-savanna trail loops, and creating new savanna areas that will regenerate via management, guided by Kurt himself. I was there to keep him on the right spots, within the boundaries of his work zones.

The Nature Trail gardens are modeled after the Aldo Leopold/ John Curtis landscape gardens at the University of Wisconsin and the North Carolina Botanical Gardens at Chapel Hill, Part of the University of North Carolina.

Serving on the board for many years now are Priscilla Floca, Adam Perkins, Leslie Ackel, Charlotte Siedenberg, John Mayronne, and myself. What a fun and energetic group of citizens can do with a little bit of time is quite remarkable indeed.

The Park is a relic of land that is part of the Covington Recreation Park, made for ball fields and outdoor community events. The ball fields were built and the remaining land is what makes up the template for our ecological restoration-cool garden work. Much of it is wetlands but we’ve developed different plant association by restoring natural disturbance regimes, mainly fire. Our emphasis right now is opening up the bog areas in what were until recently heavily canopied areas where fire has been suppressed for the last twenty years and woody growth of Maples, Yaupon, Gums, Wax Mrytle and a healthy dose of Cyrilla has completely shaded the ground and rendered the herbaceous cover absolutely dormant with the exception of a few significant indicator species. Mr. Kotteman’s work of removing the woody plants and letting the sun rain in will trigger growth from one state of composition to another.

In white, above, is what we’ve currently been burning annually for three years now. These are our open field succession experiments.

at left above is the googleEarth image of the forested zone (in green) reflecting the differing canopy variation, and the hand drawn sketch shows in yellow where we’ve opened up the canopy for fine fuel restoration.

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photographs of the smaller opened area, above

The entire Nature Park will be burned between now and October, the first restorative burn to be conducted in the second-growth area in many years. The result will likely be a dramatic change in transition of vegetation through natural succession.

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LARRY WEANER OF LARRY WEANER LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATES DESIGN WORKSHOP TO BE HELD NOVEMBER 7, 2019 IN LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA

Save the date!

more info to be posted soon…..

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a link, below, to a great story of a simple man who cared…

The Birdman of Idaho

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Louisiana Native Plant Society conference, Woodworth, Louisiana – February 7-9, 2020

USING NATIVE PLANTS IN THE LANDSCAPE: CURING THE ECOLOGICAL AMNESIA MALADY

Friday night 6:00-8:30
6:00-6:50  Eric Vanbergen  – THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING CAJUN PRAIRIE PLANTS TO SCHOOLS
6:50-7:40  Anita Pant – THE INFLUENCE OF PLANT DIVERSITY ON POLLINATOR SPECIES RICHNESS AND ABUNDANCE
7:40-8:30  Steven Nevitt – TELLING YOUR CAJUN PRAIRIE STORY: REDISCOVERING OUR ECOSYSTEM ROOTS; ENVIRONMENTAL CONNECTIONS TO THE ANCIENT ENVIRONMENT AROUND US. NORMALIZING THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE CAJUN PRAIRIE AND ITS BENEFITS

Saturday

7:30-8:30 breakfast
8:30-9:30  Charles M. Allen – EDIBLE USEFUL CHLOROPHYLL ORGANISMS WITH XYLEM
9:30-10:20  Malcolm F. Vidrine – NATIVE GARDEN PROPAGULES—PRODUCING PLANTS FOR YOUR PRAIRIE GARDEN FROM ‘STICKS’ (STEM AND ROOT CUTTINGS)
10:20-11:10  Bill Fontenot – WILDLIFE GARDEN DESIGN: CONCEPTS AND CONSIDERATIONS
11:15-12:00 biz meeting
12:00-1:00 lunch
1:00-2:00  Jane Patterson – PLANTS FOR BIRDS – WHY NATIVE PLANTS MATTER

Eric Vanbergen

Title: THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING CAJUN PRAIRIE PLANTS TO SCHOOLS

Bio: Eric Vanbergen is a freshman at LSU majoring in Environmental Science. As a high school student at Ascension Episcopal School in Youngsville, Louisiana, he led two native plant restoration projects: a 3-acre planting of Cajun prairie seed and a Cajun prairie themed pollinator habitat garden

Description: Most people who live in Louisiana are clueless to the unique beauty and diversity of native prairie plant species that can be easily incorporated in the landscape. Introducing these native plants to places like schools is crucial for bringing awareness of the importance of conserving rare native plants and protecting the animal species that depend on them.

Anita Pant
Title: THE INFLUENCE OF PLANT DIVERSITY ON POLLINATOR SPECIES RICHNESS AND ABUNDANCE

Bio: Anita Pant is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research focuses on plant-insect interactions. Ms. Pant received a Master’s degree in the Environmental Sciences from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She has received many research and travel grants from different organizations such as the Graduate Student Organization, UL Lafayette, The Louisiana Native Plant Society, The Ecology Center, Resources Himalaya Foundation. She has worked as a research associate at the “Living Earth, Nepal”, where she was responsible for conducting soil and water analysis and report writing. She also worked as a data analyst at Forum of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, Nepal. Along with her study, she is
equally involved in volunteer work. She has volunteered as a judge in Science Olympaid (2016), secretary in Nepalese Student Association (NSA, 2016-2017)), treasurer in NSA (2013-2014), teacher in Deneb International School (2007), and in many other activities and organizations.

Description: Plants depend on pollinators for their sexual reproduction and the pollinators get food from the plants. The mutualistic relationship between plants and pollinators is important for natural and managed ecosystems. The number and diversity of pollinators are in decline due to habitat degradation, invasive species, climate change, and use of insecticides and pesticides. The presentation will focus on highlighting the influence of plant species richness on the pollinator species richness and abundance. Further, the presentation will focus on identifying plant species that attract a greater number and diversity of pollinators.

Steven Nevitt

Title: TELLING YOUR CAJUN PRAIRIE STORY: REDISCOVERING OUR ECOSYSTEM ROOTS; ENVIRONMENTAL CONNECTIONS TO THE ANCIENT ENVIRONMENT AROUND US. NORMALIZING THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE CAJUN PRAIRIE AND ITS BENEFITS

Bio: Steve Nevitt is a Geoscientist with The Hise Company. He graduated from University of LOuisiana at Lafayette in 2017, with a Master of Science in Geology concentrating in paleoclimate reconstruction of coastal systems. He is currently the President of the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society.

Teaching city-slickers and country-folks about prairies through school lessons, pocket prairies, technology and storytelling. Prairies are a significant part of our history, supporting cattle, rice and crawfish production across the region. By reconnecting with the roots of our culture we can reestablish what has been lost. Showing others how incorporating prairies into our communities can make us resilient and healthy.

Bill Fontenot

Title: WILDLIFE GARDEN DESIGN: CONCEPTS AND CONSIDERATIONS

Bio: Since 1986 Bill Fontenot has dedicated his career in biology to restoring ecological integrity in lands, from the smallest urban gardens to the largest wildlife management areas. He served as Curator of Natural Sciences as the Lafayette Natural History Museum beginning in 1986, then as manager of the Acadiana Park Nature Station, where he retired in 2008. Since 1987 he has also operated his own wildlife management, “wildscape” design, and ecological restoration consulting business, specializing in ecological assessment, biological inventory, land-use planning, and wildlife-friendly native plant-oriented landscape planning. His consulting work has taken him to hundreds of sites throughout the midwestern and eastern U.S.,
serving wildlife management and conservation agencies, landscape designers, community planners, ecotourism interests, and private landowners.

He has published many natural history-related articles in various newspapers, newsletters, magazines, tourist information guides, and scientific journals. He has authored/coauthored a number of books and publications including Native Gardening in the South (1992), A Cajun Prairie Restoration Chronicle (1995, with Drs. Charles Allen and Malcolm Vidrine), Gulf Coast Birds (2001, with Brian Miller), Louisiana Birdwatching (2004, [25-page introduction] with Bill Thompson III), Vanishing Before Our Eyes (2006, with Dr. Wylie Barrow, Jr.), Wings Over The Wetlands (2008), and Watching a Forest Grow (2008). After contributing a weekly nature column in the Lafayette, LA Sunday Advertiser newspaper for 22 years, he now produces a nature blog at https://www.facebook.com/thenaturedude .

In 2001, Fontenot was honored in receiving the Louisiana Wildlife Federation’s Professional Conservationist of the Year award. In 2009, he received the Louisiana Ornithological Society’s President’s Award, and the Louisiana Native Plant Society’s Karlene DeFatta Award for service to those organizations. In 2011 The Cullowhee Gardening with Native Plants Conference honored him with the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence.

Description: Wild creatures possess a built-in set of search images which guide them in their selection of proper sites for reproduction, roosting/resting and feeding. At the same time, many homeowners and landscape managers are concerned about the “aesthetic costs” of installing wildlife-friendly designs, or are simply intimidated by the process of laying out the correct mix of trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials necessary to accomplish that goal. This presentation focuses on the identification of natural habitat components crucial to wildlife, and translating those components into the domestic confines of gardens and other human-built landscapes in a manner satisfactory to both ecological and aesthetic concerns.

Charles M. Allen

Title: EDIBLE USEFUL CHLOROPHYLL ORGANISMS WITH XYLEM

Bio: THE Man!

Description: A hands-on, actually more nose and taste bud talk about edible useful plants.  Participants will be allowed to smell and taste plants plus sample freshly brewed teas.

Malcolm F. Vidrine

Title: NATIVE GARDEN PROPAGULES—PRODUCING PLANTS FOR YOUR PRAIRIE GARDEN FROM ‘STICKS’ (STEM AND ROOT CUTTINGS)
Bio: Malcolm is a retired professor of biology from LSU Eunice. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and 14 books on prairies, butterflies, mussels and mites. He propagates native prairie plants in his nursery under Live Oak trees in his front yard.
Description: Prairie gardens can be focused upon specific goals: grass gardens, mint gardens, sunflower gardens, pea gardens, milkweed gardens, Louisiana iris gardens, pollinator gardens and/or biodiversity gardens. The main concern is plant selection and production. Stem and root cuttings (sticks) are my preferred method of propagation. A list of readily available plants that can be propagated will be provided with instructions on methods for ‘stick’ production.

Jane Patterson

Title: PLANTS FOR BIRDS – WHY NATIVE PLANTS MATTER

Bio: Jane Patterson is the current President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, as well as the Education chair. She started birding in 2005  and has gotten into it in a big way, especially from the educational perspective. Jane started a bird club for kids in Baton Rouge (KidsWhoBird), and also teaches beginning bird classes for adults through the LSU Continuing Ed systems. She was honored at the National Audubon national conference in July 2014 with the Dutcher award for outstanding service by an Audubon Chapter leader for her efforts in bird related education. Prior to becoming a birder, gardening was one of Jane’s primary hobbies, so combining birding and gardening is one of her passions.  She has also gotten into bird photography; what better subjects than all of our beautiful birds!. Jane retired from her.career in state government in 2017 as the Director of Telecommunications where she was responsible for overseeing internet and phone services for Louisiana state government. .

Description: Our native birds rely on insects and plants that evolved with them, especially during breeding season. This talk will focus on changes you can make in your yard to support our native birds.

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