Southern Louisiana // context research

Big Branch Marsh, Louisiana 2011/02

Context Big Branch March Refuge (BBM) comprises over 18,000 acres of managed lands (U.S. Fish and Wildlife) and it is located on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. I went to the BBM refuge because I wanted to experience a hardwood fresh water marsh (pine flatwoods).   The predominate canopy species were the Slash and Longleaf Pines.  The flatwoods lacked an understory. The ground plane consisted of saw grass, cord grass, bulltounge (tubers) and the Louisiana iris.  Many of the species in the wild life refuge are only found in Southern Louisiana.

While I was on the north shore of lake Pontchartrain I saw an American Bittern- a bird only seen every 2 to 5 years.  A rare sighting and it was amazing to watch it sneak back in to the safety of the dense grass.  Is birding in my future?

Synthesis I was seeking an alternative fresh water ecosystem because bald cypress ecosystems are difficult to adapt to an urban context.  Bald cypress is perceived by many residents of New Orleans as a mess species when it is grown in neighborhoods because it is deciduous.  I was struck by the interesting patterns and rhythms created by the Longleaf Pines.  The bark is coarse and intricate.   The trees grow in two formations- thinner smaller trees close together and wider, taller trees spaced farther apart.    The Longleaf pine is an interesting alternative to the bald cypress because it is not deciduous- which means there is no seasonal mess- and it is adapted to live in hydric soil conditions.

Inquiry How would Longleaf pines adapt to urban environment?  Are there any scientific studies analyzing the affect of lead toxin levels on the long-term health of Longleaf pines?  Do any of the grasses help to remove environmental pollutants like lead?

The pictures above are from my commute between New Orleans and the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
    • Eileen
    • February 12th, 2011

    Interesting. Great photos.

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