La Purchase / La Bicentennial Cypress Legacy Home

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What is the Louisiana  Bicentennial Cypress Legacy (LBCL) and Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy (LPCL)?

This is a volunteer campaign to identify and landmark cypress trees (the Louisiana State tree) that are at least 200 years old--alive at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and Louisiana statehood in 1812.

We all have marveled at the huge old live oaks gracing many of Louisiana's parks, highways, residences, bayous, and byways. But did you know that the Louisiana State tree -the bald cypress- is in many cases at least as aged as our oldest live oaks and easily equals them for their grandeur and stateliness?

The conventional wisdom is that virtually all the old growth cypress has long been logged off. But in truth, while most of it is gone, a surprising number of large old cypress still can be found in all corners of our state, from Goat Island in the West Pearl River, to Lake Fausse Pointe and Bear Bayou in the Atchafalaya Basin, to Saline Bayou in central Louisiana, to Black Bayou  in Tangipahoa Parish, to Chemin a Haute in Morehouse Parish. In fact the largest documented bald cypress in the United States is located in Louisiana on Cat Island (now part of the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge)-- it measures 53 feet in circumference at breast height. The very durability and sturdiness that made cypress the wood of choice for the building of New Orleans and towns all over Louisiana has helped the surviving old giants endure through the centuries.

With the celebration in 2012 of the Louisiana  Bicentennial, we have an ideal opportunity to link the cultural and historic heritage of our state with its ecological inheritance. The intent of the Louisiana Purchase Cypress Legacy and its concommitant initiative--the Louisiana Bicentennial Legacy is to commemorate the state's natural heritage by identifying and landmarking cypress trees  that are at least 200 years old, alive at the time of the Louisiana Statehood.

Louisiana Bicentennial Legacy Objectives

  • Greater awareness and appreciation of the presence of old growth cypress in Louisiana wetlands and other habitats
  • Conservation of old growth habitat
  • Encouragement of wetland and habitat stewardship that promotes a continued long-life for these majestic "Louisiana Purchase and Louisaina Bicentennial Trees"
  • Recreational/Eco-tourism visits to view " Louisiana Purchase and Louisiana Bicentennial Trees"
  • Educational-- role of cypress in history of Louisiana (logging, construction, building of New Orleans); ecological issues and challenges facing old growth habitat -- for example logging for cypress mulch
Where are the Louisiana Bicentennial Trees? Initially identified and landmarked  trees are on public property and are accessible by boat or on foot.

1. Lake Verrett, Assumption Parish
2. Tickfaw State Park   "Grandma Tree", Tangipahoa Parish
3. Buckhorn Wildlife Management Area, Brushy Lake Trail, Tensas Parish (see March 2012 Blog entry)
4. Woodlands Conservancy Trail, Plaquemines Parish
5. Chemin a Haute Bayou, Chemin a Haute State Park, Morehouse Parish  "Castle tree"
6. Jean Lafitte National Park, Jefferson Parish, Coquille Trail

Where are the Louisiana Purchase Trees?
       In all corners of our state.  Sites include:
  1. 1664 Robert Street at Baronne, Uptown New Orleans , Orleans Parish
    **FOUNDER'S TREE** (plaque)
  2. Sargent Lake Vicinity, Catahoula Parish **FOUNDER'S TREE** (plaque)
  3. Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, **FOUNDER'S TREE** (plaque)
  4. Tickfaw State Park vicinity , Livingston Parish
  5. Jean Lafitte National Park, Jefferson Parish
  6. Saline Bayou, Big Cypress Preserve, Bienville Parish
  7. Black Bayou Area, Joyce Wildlife Management Area, Tangipahoa Parish
  8. Ernest Slough and Goat/Porter's Island, West Pearl River area,
    St. Tammany Parish
  9. Bear Bayou area, Atchafalaya Basin, St. Martin Parish
  10. Bayou Boeuf, Kisatchie National Forest, Rapides Parish
  11. Bayou Loutre-Phillips Lake, Union Parish

How big are qualifying (200+ year old) trees?

Size of trees depends greatly on location, access to nutrients, and other ecological variables. Depending on these variables, cypress trees twelve feet or greater in circumference at breast height (preferably measured above the buttress) are potentially good candidates as "Louisiana Bicentennial Trees".

What are the key components of the LBCL/LPCL campaign?

  • Identifying sites for the tree inventory, privately as well as publicly owned
  • Determining the approximate age of candidate trees, primarily through circumference/diameter measurement and selective coring to count tree rings
  • Documenting the precise location of certified trees through GPS coordinates
  • Land marking with a plaque selected "Louisiana Purchase and Louisiana Bicentennial Trees" over 200 years of age; encouraging stewardship of these invaluable trees.
  • Creating an official State registry of "Louisiana Purchase and Louisiana Bicentennial Trees"

How can the public and community groups assist in this effort?

  • Support legislation and conservation efforts that preserve bald cypress habitat
  • Patronize and support organizations and eco-tourism companies that visit our forested wetlands, particularly those that highlight old growth cypress
  • Let us know of any large cypress trees that you feel would be good candidates for landmarking as Louisiana Bicentennial and Louisiana Purchase Trees. 200+ year old cypress that are well known locally, and relatively accessible are especially good candidates

Despite the public veneration for the old growth found in Sequoia, Redwood and Olympia National Parks in the Western United States, old growth cypress in the Southeast has largely gone unnoticed. And it's only been in the last twenty years that the US Forest Service has officially recognized old growth forests as a distinct ecological and biodiversity resource, a recognition that greatly enhances their status in forest management planning. This positive development lends support for the Cypress Legacy initiative; in addition the Legacy's timeliness is re-enforced by the State's various forest conservation efforts , as well as by awareness of ongoing threats to remnant old growth habitats-in particular sedimentation, salt water intrusion, and cypress logging  for mulch.