Trevor Cutaiar, who serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Woodlands Conservancy, is pleased to share some exciting news about a recent development with the nonprofit land trust organization.
Woodlands Conservancy announced on January 18, 2022, that they have permanently protected the 649.11-acre forested wetland property known as Woodlands Preserve. Located in Belle Chasse, Louisiana just a 20-minute drive from New Orleans CBD, the property features 10 miles of hiking and equestrian trails that lead to a grouping of ten WWII Ammunition Magazines nestled in the forest among over 200-year-old Bald Cypress.
Woodlands Conservancy protected the property via a land purchase from the Plaquemines Parish Government. Twenty years ago, this undeveloped piece of forested habitat had an uncertain future, until Woodlands Conservancy was formed as a nonprofit land trust with the goal of preserving forested greenspace. Until now, the property has been managed by Woodlands Conservancy and owned by the Parish. Over the years, Woodlands Conservancy performed regular restoration activities to enhance the value of the land to wildlife and they initiated a bird banding program to track the significance of their restoration activities to resident and migratory birds.
“Louisiana is losing land faster than just about anywhere else in the world. Over the past century nearly 2,000 square miles of coastal marshes and 80% of our forested wetlands have been lost,” says Katie Brasted, Executive Director of Woodlands Conservancy. “This property has particular conservation significance due to its unique location situated between the New Orleans Metropolitan Area and the Gulf of Mexico,” Brasted adds.
The newly acquired property is considered to likely be one of the largest forested landmasses between open water and the city of New Orleans in the next 30 to 45 years. Woodlands Conservancy also owns 190 acres of forested wetlands in the Lower Coast Algiers portion of the Peninsula formed by Orleans and Plaquemines Parish. This new land acquisition creates a large contiguous greenway of public and quasi-public greenspace.
While the property is of considerable value to wildlife including Species of Conservation Concern, it also offers economic worth to nearby homes and businesses in the form of storm protection. Affectionately referred to as “the Sponge,” the property’s forests are capable of absorbing 32 million gallons of water annually, water that would otherwise overburden our storm water collection system. Its storm water value alone is worth 15 million to the local economy.
“The acquisition of this precious piece of Gulf Coast habitat will ensure this land is permanently protected for the enjoyment of the community and the wildlife that depend on it,” adds Amy Barton, Woodlands Conservancy’s Board President. “This property is located on the Mississippi Flyway, a passage that migratory birds take during spring and fall migration. This space is a critical resting and refueling area for songbirds as they recover from and prepare for their long and tiring journey.”
About Woodlands Conservancy
The mission of Woodlands Conservancy is to preserve and restore an ecosystem dedicated to creating daily public opportunities for recreation, ecotourism, and education in a natural and historic setting. The vision of Woodlands Conservancy is to be the regional model for the conservation of hardwood forests, and a leader in the advocacy and preservation of Louisiana’s coastal forest ecosystems.