Representatives of the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation joined with partners from the LSU AgCenter, 4H Club, Chalmette High School, Sea Grant, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Anglers Bettering Louisiana’s Estuaries, and St. Bernard Coastal Department to plant Black Mangrove trees along the coast at Mosquito Bight on Bay Eloi at the east end of St. Bernard Parish.
“Together, we’ve been growing and planting Black Mangrove trees for about five years now, and we’re seeing that these plants are well suited for our wetlands,” said Meraux Foundation Coastal and Environmental Program Director Blaise Pezold. “They thrive here, and their roots help hold soil and build land.”
He says the Black Mangrove program, which is part part of the Parish’s Coastal Master Plan, are an integral part of the “Multiple Lines of Defense” strategy to reduce risk and protect communities from storm surge.
“Mangroves are the tallest plant we can put in the salt marsh to slow storm surge before it hits our levees,” he said.
Students at Chalmette High School grew the Mangroves for over a year and a half until they were a suitable size for planting.
“It is fulfilling to know that these small plants will grow into tall trees that will create a barrier against storm surge,” said Max Haines, a university student and the son of Meraux Foundation Board Member Chris Haines who helped with the planting.
Another of Haines’ sons, Garvey, also helped with the planting, and as a recent graduate of Loyola University with a degree in communications, he produced a video on the experience.
“This has been a truly rewarding experience, coming together with so many people from different organizations to create something that will have real and lasting effects,” he said.
The environment is a key focus of the Meraux Foundation’s programming, which includes plantings, coalition building, and education programs.
“This most recent planting adds to the tens of thousands of trees we’ve planted along the St. Bernard Parish coast over the past few years,” said Pezold. “The cumulative effect is a healthier, more resilient coastline – and one that will protect our neighborhoods from storm surge, something top of mind for everyone as we’re now well into hurricane season.”