Live oak trees have disappeared in Grand Chenier - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Man working to reforest live oaks in Grand Chenier

CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Acorns of Hope founder, Bob Thibodeaux, has collected live oak acorns and grown them in his nursery.

Thibodeaux hopes to transplant those now large trees to Grand Chenier in November.

But in the meantime, he's educating the public on the importance of live oak trees and why so many have disappeared.

It was after Hurricane Katrina that Thibodeaux wanted to do more for his community.

"We saw the devastation and to be very honest, we realized as a company we needed to be more charitable," he said.

Since then, Thibodeaux donates and plants trees on a regular basis.

On Tuesday, he helped students of South Cameron High School plant a mulberry tree.

"The Acorns of Hope program that Mr. Bob Thibodeaux with Bob's Tree Preservation initiated has been with the Cameron Parish School Board and the schools in Cameron Parish since 2005," explained Cameron Schools Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue.

But Thibodeaux's true passion is repopulating the live oaks.

Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge Research Biologist, Will Selman, said, "Of the Chenier woods habitat, pre-colonization there were approximately 100,000 acres across Southwestern Louisiana, the Chenier live oak hackberry ridge forest, now there's only about 5 percent of that left."

Selman said hurricanes and droughts have caused most of the mass live oak deaths.

And although there are many factors that have contributed to the loss of live oaks, many organizations are working to increase their numbers.

And Thibodeaux is leading the charge. Since 2005, he's collected live oak acorns for a large-scale tree-planting event in November.

"To try and reforest some of the things that have been lost over the last several years with the big storms is something that's really exciting," said Heather Finley from Trees Acadiana.

And these trees are also important for wildlife habitats, soil erosion and blocking wind. Plus, "The purest strand of live oak in the world is here, and it would be a terrible loss to the world if we lost these valuable trees," said Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux said he hopes to plant 400 to 500 live oaks in Grand Chenier next month with the help of volunteers.

For more information on November's tree-planting event, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/41636335932/?fref=ts

Copyright 2013 KPLC All rights reserved.


Here is some information from Thibodeaux on future planting events:

The live oak trees will be coming from Bob's Tree Preservation and will be planted with the use of tree spades and machinery and cranes to dig and plant the trees, although strong backs will still be required.
Nov 22 - Arrive in Church Point, LA
Nov 23 - Cycle from Church Point to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge - 85 miles
Nov 24-25 - Plant trees and acorns
Nov - 26 - Cycle back to Church Point
Please show your interest in this event ASAP as accommodations are limited and will be arranged.
The closest airport is Lafayette and shuttle service can be arranged.
Feel free to contact Bob Thibodeaux at 337-319-3957 or Greg Hill at 416-997-2053.

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