LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Tuten Park in Lake Charles was recognized on Friday as the first public property in the state to have plants native to our region.
The park received a sign from the Louisiana Native Plant Society with a gold seal certifying they have over 75 native plants, including the Texas Star Hibiscus, which is native to North America, and Louisiana irises.
Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife, which park program manager Irvin Louque says helped butterflies in particular.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is an increase in butterflies,” Louque said. “They’re very specific to their larvae and needs specific plants, usually almost always native plants.”
Birds have also visited Tuten Park - over 130 species have stopped by during migration, Louque said.
“Having a community of native plants means that your area looks and feels unique compared to anywhere else in the world,” Louque said. “It contributes to a really good sense of place in your area. You can see it with the magnolias and live oaks that we love in Lake Charles.”
Thirty educational signs will be put out in the next few weeks that point out native plants with a few facts.
Alexandria resident Cindy Branham, who visited the park for the first time, said she loved the nature she and her family saw.
4-year-old Paisley said she loves plants. “I love them because the animals, like the butterflies and bees and honey…can go and sit,” Paisley said.
“And I like turtles! I like all turtles,” Bear, 3, chimed in.
Branham said parks give kids an outlet to discover things and play together.
The Louisiana Certified Habitat program aims to encourage property owners and managers to increase and protect the ecological value of their land to benefit wildlife and natural systems, Katie Harrington, public information officer for City of Lake Charles said.
Louisiana residents can register their yard or acreage on their property for the sign, depending on bronze, silver or gold level. You need 25 species to reach bronze level.