March 28, 2022, NEW ORLEANS, LA - Cypress tree forest and pollinator meadows are coming to the Lafitte Greenway! City and community partners are excited to announce “Lafitte Greenway GROW!,” a multi-year restoration project to plant 1,000 Cypress trees in the Greenway’s bioswales and pollinator flower meadows.
Partners & Supporters
GROW! is a landscape restoration project and fundraising campaign led collaboratively by Friends of Lafitte Greenway (Friends), NORD, Parks and Parkways, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL), SPROUT NOLA, and Spackman Mossop Michaels. This project is made possible with support from Coypu Foundation Trust established by John S. McIlhenny, One Tree Planted, Spackman Mossop Michaels, and GROW campaign contributors.
In order to ensure that the Greenway’s landscape is sustainable, safe, and beautiful over the long-term, and herbicide use is limited, the partners are undertaking this landscape restoration project. Award-winning landscape architecture firm, Spackman Mossop Michaels, designed this adaptive planting and management plan for the Greenway’s bioswales and meadows that will restore and expand our urban tree canopy, restore native plantings, support pollinators, and naturally prevent the overgrowth that has inhibited the bioswales’ functionality and has been a community visibility and safety concern.
Site preparation began this month to remove overgrowth and invasive species in anticipation of the initial Cypress trees and flower meadow plantings this April. This week, SPROUT NOLA begins tarping and preparing the site for meadow planting. The first 100 Cypress trees of the 1,000 Cypress forest will be planted in honor of Earth Day this April. Friends and SOUL are recruiting volunteers for this tree planting. Sign up to volunteer at www.lafittegreenway.org/events.
Grow! Fundraising Campaign
Project partners invite the public to support this environmental restoration work by contributing to the GROW! Campaign at www.lafittegreenway.org/grow. The partners are currently fundraising to plant the next 900 Cypress trees of the 1,000 Cypress forest, beginning this fall, and to support the continued establishment of the Greenway’s wildflower meadows.
Cypress Forest Planting
The 1,000 Cypress Forest will be planted in the Lafitte Greenway’s bioswales. The land that is now the Lafitte Greenway was once a Cypress swamp. This project will re-establish the native tree canopy.
The Cypress will be closely planted 10 feet-apart, following Spackman Mossop Michaels’ design using natural mulching and shading techniques. As the trees grow, their dropped Cypress nettles will self-mulch, reducing understory plant growth and invasive species establishment while providing habitat for birds and wildlife.
The tree planting project will be led by SOUL, working with community and corporate volunteers.
- Expand New Orleans urban tree canopy and reforest the city in alignment with the City’s Master Plan and resilient strategies.
- Reduce overgrowth and re-establish clear sightlines in response to community demand.
- Increase stormwater infrastructure. A single Bald Cypress can absorb 880 gallons of water in a single day.
- Increase shaded areas for walking, biking, rest, and recreation and cool the city and surrounding air temperatures.
- Reduce herbicide use and long-term maintenance using natural mulching and shading techniques.
- Provide habitats for birds and insects.
- Beautify the Greenway.
Pollinator Meadow Planting
Beginning this April, SPROUT NOLA will plant lowland flower meadows along the Lafitte Greenway Great Lawn between N. Galvez Street and N. Claiborne Avenue. These lowland meadows will beautify the Greenway, support pollinators and wildlife habitat, and provide an opportunity to engage and educate farmers and the larger community.
This project has an exciting workforce development and training component for local farmers and growers in alignment with SPROUT NOLA’s mission. SPROUT will use this Greenway’s meadows as a training grounds for local farmers and growers in the value of planting pollinator strips, sustainable land management strategies, and in the use of walk-behind tractors.
The meadow planting project is possible thanks to support from the Coypu Foundation Trust established by John S. McIlhenny.
- Provide food and habitat for essential pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
- Beautify the Greenway Great Lawn.
- Engage urban farmers and community members in educational programming on sustainable agricultural practices and workforce development training.
- Reduce herbicide use.
- Lowers maintenance costs. Native meadows only need to be cut or mown once a year. This not only saves time and mowing costs, but also reduces emissions, gas, and energy to operate lawn mowers, weed whackers, and other lawn equipment.
- Once established, the native meadow does not need supplemental irrigation. In fact, irrigation may favor the growth of weed species. Because it is planted with native plants it is able to withstand drought.
- Native plants have deeper root systems than traditional lawns and are better able to store carbon in the soil.
The Need for Environmental Restoration
The Lafitte Greenway is the first large-scale public project in the City of New Orleans to include significant Greenway infrastructure; the establishment and maintenance has been a learning process for the City in green infrastructure establishment, operations, and maintenance.
When the Greenway opened in 2015, the original planting plan and maintenance plan was never realized. The plants that established in the bioswales largely “volunteered,” including a number of problematic invasive species and significant overgrowth that have inhibited the bioswales function for stormwater management. Additionally, community leaders, including the Lafitte Greenway Ambassadors bringing diverse community voices and equitable engagement to the Greenway’s work, identified bioswale overgrowth as a significant safety concern of community members in the Greenway’s Treme/Lafitte neighborhoods.
Pictured: 2019 Greenway Ambassadors who identified bioswale overgrowth as a key community priority to address.
In order to ensure that the Greenway’s landscape is sustainable, safe, and beautiful over the long-term, to limit herbicide use, reduce long-term maintenance costs, and respond to community demand, City and environmental partners are undertaking this landscape restoration project. Once this project is complete, the Greenway's non-turf landscape will be managed using a maintenance manual and plan currently being developed by City agencies for use citywide, as this and several other green infrastructure projects come online in the coming years.
Site Preparation is in Progress
Pictured: Parks and Parkways preparing site
The bioswale section between N. Dorgenois St. and N. Galvez St. has been cut back by the City of New Orleans personnel and contractors in order to prepare the site for the first 100 Cypress tree plantings this April. The Department of Parks & Parkways identified the trees to remove and retain in the bioswales to prepare the site. Many invasives and volunteer weed trees with poor growth patterns and weak root systems have been removed to prepare the site.
Bioswales between N. Galvez St. and N. Claiborne have been cut-back, and will continue bi-annual cuttings to reduce woody overgrowth.
Pictured: SPROUT NOLA tarps the Greenway to prepare for meadow planting.
In preparation for meadow plantings, the planned meadow area will be covered in tarps to kill weeds and grass underneath. Then, SPROUT will conduct a controlled burn to put nitrogen and nutrients back into the soil. After, the area will be seeded with fast-growing flowers to outgrow weeds and unwanted plants. Flowers will begin to bloom during the summer. SPROUT will plant cover crops.
From the Project Partners
“We are proud to partner with an incredible team on GROW -- a project for the long-term wellbeing of the Greenway. The Cypress forest and meadows plantings support the growth of our urban tree canopy, beautify the Greenway, respond to equitable community input, and align with natural ecology of this space to support care and maintenance. We are excited about the community environmental programming ahead.” - Sophie Harris Vorhoff, Executive Director of Friends of Lafitte Greenway.
“We’re so excited to team up with such great partners on this tree installation project on the Greenway. Spackman, Mossop, Michaels’ design is so beautiful in its simplicity and order. This project will ultimately alleviate a great deal of maintenance, and will serve as an example of how tree canopy is the simplest and most cost effective form of green infrastructure to install and maintain. We’re proud to play a role in this”. - Susannah Burley, Executive Director & Founder of SOUL
“As we continue to make improvements along the Greenway, we are excited about this multi-year restoration project. Planting cypress trees and pollinator flower meadows will aid in preserving and enhancing the natural environment while helping to increase stormwater infrastructure,” said Larry Barabino, Jr., NORD CEO. “It is important to include landscaping and beautification projects to our park services. I am excited to see the beginning of a great transformation for this area.”
“We are so proud to work with this amazing group to bring Lafitte Greenway GROW! to life. The project is a prime example of how nature-based solutions can be used in the New Orleans community. These 1,000 trees will cut back the need for gas-powered mowers on the greenway and capture tons of carbon from the atmosphere, all while reducing flooding in the city.” - Emily Bullock, Principal Landscape Architect, Spackman Mossop Michaels
“Continued expansion of our urban forest in the Lafitte Greenway will make patrons’ experience along this fantastic recreational corridor that much more enjoyable, while at the same time providing environmental benefits such as increased tree canopy coverage and reduction of stormwater runoff. We are eager to see the transformation take shape and also proud to see public and private partners come together to make it happen." Michael Karam, Director of Parks and Parkways
“We’re extremely excited to partner with the Grow Project installing meadows in the Lafitte Greenway. The meadows consist of food production for insects, alongside supporting soil development and regulating services such as pest control. We look forward to teaching the community about the importance of Meadows and the roles they play in urban agriculture.” says Terence Jackson, Farmer Outreach Coordinator for SPROUT
About the Lafitte Greenway
The Lafitte Greenway Bicycle and Pedestrian Path is a public 2.6-mile multi-use trail and linear park connecting the French Quarter to Bayou St. John and Mid-City. The Lafitte Greenway is used by 325,000 people annually on foot and bicycle. It serves as an active transportation route, and a space for recreation, play, community-building, and environmental sustainability. The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD) manages the Lafitte Greenway. The City and community have continued to invest in improvements to the Greenway since its opening, developing state-of-the-art sports fields, basketball courts, fitness parks, playgrounds, stormwater management features, and art installations, as well as public programming that engages the community and activates the space.
Friends of Lafitte Greenway
Friends of Lafitte Greenway is the non-profit community partner working to ensure that the Lafitte Greenway is a safe, vibrant, and active community asset. Since 2006, Friends of Lafitte Greenway has worked to build, program, and promote the Lafitte Greenway as a great public space. For more information, visit www,LafitteGreenway.org.
The New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission provides safe, wholesome, educational, recreational and culturally engaging opportunities to the residents of New Orleans. NORD is the City’s official partner helping to manage and care for the Lafitte Greenway. For more information about NORD, visit www.nordc.org.
Parks & Parkways
The City of New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways’ mission is to manage, maintain, develop, beautify, and preserve over 2,000 acres of public green spaces in New Orleans. Working with multiple city departments and partners, Parkways is engaged in the design, installation, and maintenance of green infrastructure projects throughout the city; these projects mitigate stormwater impacts on neighborhoods while providing flexible green open spaces or enhancing existing places such as parks, and roadways. For more information, visit https://www.nola.gov/parks-and-parkways/.
SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape) is a local environmental nonprofit dedicated to driving a resilient and environmentally equitable New Orleans by reforesting our urban landscape. To date, SOUL has planted over 6,000 trees throughout Orleans Parish in an effort to bolster neighborhoods against the effects of climate change. For more information about SOUL, visit www.soulnola.org.
SPROUT NOLA works towards a better food system by making farming accessible to everyone— that means anyone who wants to farm as a hobby, as a career, or anywhere in between. SPROUT builds community around growing food and bridge the gaps in resources for farmers of all kinds. Their work includes farmer training, technical assistance and coalition-building in Louisiana; community gardening and food sovereignty work in their neighborhood; and advocating for equitable policy change regionally and beyond. For more information visit https://www.sproutnolafarm.org/.
Spackman Mossop and Michaels
Spackman Mossop Michaels is an award-winning international office for urban strategy and landscape architecture. Their mission is to create places that people love to use every day. They believe that as designers of public space, they have a responsibility to transform the mundane into an extraordinary and meaningful experience. Their practice comprises a team of landscape architects, urban designers, and planners with extensive experience in small and large-scale master planning and design of multi-functional urban infrastructure. Spackman Mossop Michaels is the landscape designer of the Lafitte Greenway GROW! Project. For more information, visit http://spackmanmossopmichaels.com.
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