November 24, 2015
Tulane’s Bayou Sauvage tree-planting team included (above) PhD student Jennifer Summers; Professor Mike Blum, director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research; Mark Davis, director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy; architect John Williams; Tulane President Mike Fitts; and volunteer Maeghan Olivier Doherty, and (below) law students Jennifer Bergeron and Andrew Houlin (both L ’17).
Photos by Cheryl Gerber
By Carol J. Schlueter
The Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans has something special to be thankful about, just in time for the holiday. A group of 25 people from the Tulane University community spent the Saturday before Thanksgiving planting 250 trees in the refuge, one of the last remaining marsh areas adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne.
Organized by Tulane alumnus John Williams, who heads a local architecture firm and is active in environmental issues, the service project involved President Mike Fitts, Tulane Law School Dean David Meyer, Mark Davis, director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy, and other faculty, students and staff members from the law school, the School of Architecture’s Tulane City Center and the School of Science and Engineering.
Law student Nolan Bush (L ’17) plants one of 250 trees that a Tulane University team added to the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge landscape on Nov. 21.
Williams began planning the trip four months ago with the aim of introducing Fitts to issues surrounding the importance of Louisiana wetlands. The architect has served for years on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation.
“It’s important for him (Fitts) to understand, as the wetlands go, so does Tulane,” Williams said.
Volunteers selected trees from the Common Ground Relief Nursery in the Lower Ninth Ward for planting in the 24,000-acre Bayou Sauvage, the largest urban National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. The area’s diverse habitat supports more than 340 bird species and is located within massive hurricane protection levees built to protect eastern New Orleans from storm surges and flooding.
“It was heavy work digging the holes, placing the trees and packing the soil,” said Fitts, who’s also a member of the law faculty. "It also was notably muddier than a typical day at the office. But it was fun. I loved spending time with students from all over the university. I learned a lot about the deterioration of Louisiana’s wetlands. The trip was both rewarding and enlightening.”
Carol J. Schlueter is Tulane University’s executive director of editorial and creative services.
(A version of this story first appeared in Tulane’s New Wave.)