Over 40 volunteers took to the St. Charles Parish wetlands this month to plant 750 cypress trees.
The project was funded by a $20,000 donation from Valero to the Pontchartrain Conservancy. Pontchartrain Conservancy’s mission is to drive environmental sustainability and stewardship through scientific research, education and advocacy.
“At Pontchartrain Conservancy, partnering with local businesses like Valero is critical to foster an ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability in our community,” Pontchartrain Conservancy Executive Director Kristi Trail said. “Together, we have planted thousands of trees to help restore vital wetlands that act as a critical line of defense from storm surge during hurricane season, especially in St. Charles Parish.”
Valero St. Charles Refinery VP and General Manager Jerry Stumbo said Valero has partnered with Pontchartrain Conservancy for over a decade, and that the partnership is stronger now than ever.
“We primarily work with the organization to plant trees in the wetlands, which restores the swamp in the parish we call ‘home,’” Stumbo said. “This year, we were honored that St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell came out and joined us in this community effort.”
The Pontchartrain Conservancy board of directors represents Lake Pontchartrain Basin parishes and regulatory agencies. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin is a 10,000 square mile watershed encompassing 16 Louisiana parishes, including St. Charles Parish. The land use of the region is both rural and urban and is the most densely populated region in Louisiana, including metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It is one of the largest estuarine systems in the Gulf of Mexico, containing over 22 essential habitats. The Basin’s topography ranges from rolling woodlands in the north to coastal marshes in the south, with the 630 square mile Lake Pontchartrain as its centerpiece.
“It is vital that we keep our wetlands healthy and active as they are essential to both the livelihood of our ecosystem and provide flood protection against hurricanes,” Jewell said. “I would like to thank Valero and the Pontchartrain Conservancy for making the LaBranche Wetlands a priority and for inviting me to participate in this great event.”