Boy Scout leads work to restore Cajun prairie

KPLC 7News at Six - Jan. 22, 2020 - Pt. II

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - When the Coastal Plains Conservancy needed help completing its Long Leaf Legacy project at Sam Houston Jones State Park, they reached out to the Boy Scouts. This week, volunteers worked in Moss Bluff on a cold morning, scooping up sod from a field off North Perkins Ferry Road. They’re removing it from property owned by Tom Morris, a member of the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists.

"Between Eunice, Lafayette and Lake Charles was known as the Cajun Prairie," said Morris, a Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalist. "This is about a thirty acre remnant out here. It doesn't look to good right now because it's the dead of winter. But this thing is in full bloom for about 9 months of the year with 230-odd species of plants out here."

Boy Scout John Meaney is taking on the project to transfer turf from the property to a site in Sam Houston Jones State Park as part of the Long Leaf Legacy project.

“Both sides had the ability to do it,” said Meaney. “But they couldn’t really organize the manpower. So that’s where I came in with the Boy Scouts.”

“This ecosystem with less than 1 percent of it left, the organisms in it, they’re not exactly endangered species, but they are declining,” said CC Richmond, a member of the Coast Plains Conservancy and Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 39 in DeRidder. “We’re not seeing as many of them. The wildflowers will select our native pollinators and insects. It’s an educational opportunity.”

“On top of the sod are a lot of seeds,” said Barbara Morris, also a Master Naturalist. “Then underneath are perennial plants mostly, so their roots are still in here. Look, we even have earthworms. So the plants will re grow from what’s in this sod.”

“To get a full ecosystem, you need to get the microorganisms, the insects the worms, the whole bit,” said Richmond. “So we want to just handle them gently.”

Not just the turf is being transferred. The seeds will also be spread to create wildflowers.

“One man’s weeds is another man’s wildflowers,” said Barbara. “So we have a lot of the wild grass that still has some seeds on them. This will be scattered and thrown on the site The seeds that are on here will drop and help the plants to grow.”

Results of the project should be noticeable at Sam Houston by mid to late spring.

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