A Different View on a Forest in Recovery

A Different View on a Forest in RecoverySunday I met with Katie Brasted of Woodlands Conservancy and showed Shannon Dosemagen from Public Laboratory.org recent efforts to restore Louisiana’s Coastal Forests on the westbank of the Mississippi. The Bottomland Hardwoods of Woodlands Conservancy are some of the southernmost coastal wetland forests along the mainstem of the Mississippi Rivermost of the former forested areas have been bulldozed for urban development, destroyed by saltwater from the MRGO, or leveled by Katrina’s awesome winds and surge. We took to the skies via a camera attached to a weather balloon, to monitor the recovery of the woodlands along the trail. Once a cypress swamp, the entire peninsula has been drastically drained since the establishment of a suburban golf course and subdivision. Cypress trees grow perched several feet into the air, their roots exposed by pump-induced subsidence. The perched trees did not fare well in Katrina’s tremendous winds. We saw many signs of recovery, although in places the invasive Chinese tallow threatens many young oak and cypress saplings that have been replanted by scores of volunteer groups since 2009. Ms Brasted, a native of West Virginia but resident of New Orleans for decades, has spent decades building and rebuilding the trails. She has been determined to see the forest grow through the storm. She has collaborated with Dr Sean Anderson, of University of California Channel Islands, to administer and monitor a tallow control project in the past several years. Our survey pictures, once published, will help demonstrate and evaluate that effort. The results will be published to the publiclaboratory.org site, as well as openstreetmap.Coastal Restoration is a process of learning-while-doing, and our efforts to cheaply document the results of such tremendous efforts can help us all learn how best to build a forest. Scott Eustis is GRN’s Coastal Wetland Specialist

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