A Budding Future

An aerial view of New Orleans City Park’s Couturie Forest in 2009, the same year the park board voted to expand the park by an additional 30 acres. A 5-acre coastal prairie was included in the expansion.

An aerial view of New Orleans City Park’s Couturie

Forest in 2009, the same year the park board voted to

expand the park by an additional 30 acres. A 5-acre coastal

prairie was included in the expansion.

Most importantly, visitation to the forest continues to increase. Bird watchers spot rare painted-buntings or a soaring eagle, fathers watch their children reel in bass, joggers with bad knees appreciate the soft mulch running surface, and scores of locals enjoy escaping to a forest within the confines of a major urban city.

Lessons Learned

The revitalization of a forest does not happen in a year or two. It will likely take another 10 years before the trees planted since Hurricane Katrina are providing enough shade to inhibit the growth of invasives. In the meantime, volunteers will continue to give Mother Nature a helping hand by clearing a 3-foot perimeter around newly planted trees.

Tackling 33 acres of ravaged forest armed largely with volunteers is rather daunting and frightening. With a plan in place, however, the area has experienced significant incremental progress over the last 8 years.

But a good plan doesn’t mean there haven’t been problems and setbacks. In 2012, Hurricane Isaac buffeted New Orleans with tropical-storm winds continuously for 36 hours. Torrential rain and pounding wind punished scores of recently planted trees in the forest to the point they were listing to a degree that makes the Leaning Tower of Pisa look straight.

But with a little patience and many volunteers, the emerald-green hues that once blanketed the forest are thriving again.

John Hopper is the Chief Development Officer for New   Orleans City Park. Reach him at jhopper@nocp.org or (504) 259-1509.

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  3. Preserving The Past For The Future
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  5. From Grazing To Gazing

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