Time to step up! Volunteer tree planters needed for Caernarvon

The planting is being sponsored by the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation, the Meraux Foundation, and the Restore the Earth Foundation.

By Annette Phillips, NOLA.com

April is designated as National Volunteer month and is dedicated to encouraging volunteerism as well as honoring volunteers who give their time and talents.

Volunteers are needed for the third phase of Cypress tree planting near the exterior of the levee system in Caernarvon area. The plan is to plant 2,400 cypress trees in the 12-acre area over three plantings. St. Bernard is in need of volunteers to participate in the final phase of the effort which will take place on Saturday, April 8 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Click on this link to register https://jvgrave1.wufoo.com/forms/qtyt8tl0n2jjl1/.

This is a joint effort by the St. Bernard Parish Government and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF). The planting is being sponsored by the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation, the Meraux Foundation, and the Restore the Earth Foundation.

“The St. Bernard Parish Government has made coastal restoration more of a priority in the last year than ever before,” Kerri Callais, council member, said. “We started the Coastal Department last year and I couldn’t be happier with the progress we are making.”

According to the LPBF, Cypress trees are essential for restoring degraded wetland ecosystems. They provide a habitat for wildlife and help to limit erosion of land. The trees will also help abate and reduce storm surge.

During the first planting, LSU AgCenter Agent Wayne Burgess and 25 4-H students unloaded cypress trees and brought them into the marsh for volunteers to plant. Parish President Guy Mcinnis, Callais along with Executive Director of Coastal Affairs John Lane, Captain George Ricks and Coastal Advisor Dr. Jerry Graves, and a group of volunteers planted nearly 600 cypress trees.

On the second planting, approximately 20 volunteers assisted with the unloading, staging, and planting of over 700 trees. Students from Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island were among the volunteers who participated.

“The best part of this particular project is the involvement of students and volunteers,” Callais said. “If we are going to win the battle against coastal erosion in St. Bernard, we have to get young people out there and show them what we are fighting for.”

The Chalmette National Cemetery is also looking for volunteers from April 10 to the 27 to clean, realign and document headstones at the cemetery, which is located at 8606 W. St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette. For more information or to volunteer, call 504.589.3882 extension 120 or visit www.nps.gov/jela or www.savingplaces.org/chalmette.

“This will be a way for people to learn valuable preservation skills while they help protect important sites like the Chalmette National Cemetery,” Gaynell Brady, VIP coordinator for the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve said.

Volunteers will receive on-site training in basic preservation methods and can choose morning or afternoon shifts.

“It is our goal to clean the entire cemetery before the Memorial Day flag (presentation) on May 26th,” Brady said.

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