Gulf of Mexico
Halle Parker / AP Photo

LA - An Effort to Plant Queen Bess Island for Louisiana Pelicans

QUEEN BESS ISLAND, La. (AP) — After Louisiana officials finished restoring 37-acre Queen Bess Island in February, much of the vegetation planted on its small footprint of newly pumped sand didn’t have time to take root before more than 6,000 brown pelicans arrived for breeding season.

The birds pulled up some sprouts to use in their nests.

So on Nov. 13, the squawks of a few lingering pelicans mixed with the hum of drills boring shallow holes in the island’s surface, preparing spots for about 50 volunteers to plant another 6,000 seedlings on the state’s newest wildlife refuge.

Matt Benoit, who coordinates habitat restoration for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, demonstrated how to take young black mangrove shrubs and matrimony vines out of their plastic pots and place them in the drilled holes.

“You have to pack the sand around the roots real tight. They don’t like any air down there,” he said as he pulled sand around a mangrove seedling. His agency brought about 1,500 of the plants, while Nicholls State University’s farm provided about 200 and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation supplied the remainder.

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