TPL Protects Important Bayou Wetlands (LA)

NEW ORLEANS, 1/19/2005 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit private land conservation organization, today announced it has acquired a 16.5-acre track of land along Bayou Liberty in Slidell, St. Tammany Parish. Formerly known as the Abney Property, this forested parcel is one of the last pristine tracts of land in the heavily developed Northshore Boulevard area.

“This is the second in a series of acquisitions that will become a part of the Bayou Liberty Wetlands Watershed Conservation District,” says TPL’s Louisiana State Director Larry Schmidt. “The conservation district is set up to enhance flood control and water quality in St. Tammany as well as protect freshwater influx into the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge.”

Various wildlife routinely use bayous and streams such as Bayou Liberty to move through the watershed, migrating from the pine uplands of the headwaters to the coastal marshes along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

“Many people might not realize that Bayou Liberty is actually a ‘blackwater’ habitat for at least two endangered species: the red-cockaded woodpecker and the Louisiana quillwort,” Schmidt continued. “Blackwater streams and rivers originate in swampy areas and get their names because the water that flows through them is stained dark brown, like the color of tea, by organic acids or tannins. The fern-like semi-aquatic quillwort is extremely vulnerable because of its small population size and because suitable blackwater stream habitats are rare in Louisiana.”

“This is not only an important land conservation acquisition for an area that has been under immense development pressure,” said St. Tammany Parrish President Kevin Davis, “but it is important for the whole St. Tammany community. The health of the marshes depends on the amount and quality of fresh water provided by the bayou. Securing this piece of property will go a long way toward helping protect the quality of that fresh water flow.”

“Permanently preserving this property is part of a larger conservation strategy aimed at protecting our entire watershed,” Davis continued. “With the Trust for Public Land’s help, we’re on our way to implementing that strategy. This is a perfect example of how good things can happen when local governments team up with an organization like the Trust for Public Land. Partner with a quality organization and you get quality results—and TPL is truly a quality organization.”

Last year, TPL completed a two-year land conservation project for St. Tammany Parish, providing St. Tammany residents with a new 100-acre park when it saved historic Camp Salmen Boy Scout Camp. The acquisition of the Abney property will provide multiple community benefits including wetland preservation, flood reduction, surface water quality protection, wildlife habitat and endangered species protection, and active and passive recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking and birding.

TPL, founded in 1972, protects land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has saved more than 1.9 million acres of land. In Louisiana, TPL has helped protect 14,500 acres in the state, including land on Louisiana’s coast and rivers, and in urban centers and developing suburban communities. Its signature initiative in New Orleans, the Mississippi Riverfront Park, is a 1-mile long park from Jackson Avenue to Race Street. For more information, see

Posted 1/19/2005