Lafayette volunteers target Louisiana Avenue for spruce up

A community group plans to plant native trees and flowering plants along the newly opened Louisiana Avenue extension Saturday morning to spruce up the roadway’s appearance.

The project is a joint venture between city-parish government and the Northeast Gateway Coterie, a community group that works with local government.

Eric Castille, chairman of the Northwest Gateway Coterie’s landscaping committee, said the goal is to improve the appeal of the main gateway to the north side of town.

“It’s been a great community effort,” Castille said.

He said the City-Parish Council backs the effort, and volunteers, both businesses and individuals, have contributed and have loaned equipment to help with the project.

“We’ve had great cooperation from police, firemen and city planning,” Castille said.

More than 80 winged elms, ironwood and other trees, and 300 native shrubs and grasses, such as palmettos and gulf muhly grass, will be planted along the roadway.

“The importance of using native plants is that those are the plants that are already adapted to our soils and our climate,” said Heather Finley, president of TreesAcadiana, a nonprofit group helping with the project. “Our native insects are feeding on those native plants. Our native birds are feeding on those native insects.”

The trees are to be planted on a largely barren stretch of Louisiana Avenue north of Interstate 10.

The newest portion of Louisiana Avenue opened in 2013, pushing the road about a mile north from Maryview Farm Road to Butcher Switch Road.

The final leg of the extension is scheduled to be finished by 2016, connecting with Gloria Switch Road near the Carencro city limits.

The tree-planing event this weekend was scheduled to celebrate Arbor Day, the third Friday in January.

Finley said TreesAcadiana has been working with more than 30 schools in the region this week to help promote environmental awareness for Arbor Day.

“When a child plants a tree, it establishes a link to the natural world around them,” she said. “It’s a way for them to tune into that world.”

City-parish government supplied the trees through the Apache Corp.’s Tree Grant program, which the oil and gas company created to help nonprofits and governmental entities plant native trees.

The Saturday event on Louisiana Avenue is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon, and the public is invited to enjoy beautiful weather and jambalaya supplied by City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux.

Finley said about 80 volunteers came to show support at last year’s Arbor Day event and she’s hoping for even more this year.