Reforestation Set For Historic New Orleans Neighborhood

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A nonprofit is seeking volunteers to help plant trees and restore a historic New Orleans neighborhood this weekend.

Sustaining Our Urban Landscape, or SOUL, will launch its reforesting park project Saturday in the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood with the goal of planting a tree in front of every home in the community. The seven-phase project will involve the planting of 100 native trees, WWL-TV reported.

“Trees want to grow here,” said Susannah Burley, SOUL’s executive director. “We’re planting green infrastructure that can make a huge environmental impact."

Pontchartrain Park was built in 1955 as a planned suburban development for a Black community. The land was previously a cypress-tupelo forest. But after much development, the neighborhood began to suffer from a lack of trees, especially in terms of flood mitigation.

“Certain trees can suck up a significant amount of water during a rain event,” said Eugene Green, a member of SOUL’s board of directors.

Burley said the project will bring environmental benefits that residents can appreciate for decades.

“We pay for all of the trees, and we plant all of the trees, and we also hire the wonderful, local landscape company to water all of our trees once a week for one year. That first year is critical to have a proper maintenance because we really want the trees to survive. They have to survive and reach maturity to make the really big impact of storm water runoff, flooding, air pollution, etc.,” Burley explained.

Green, who grew up in the community, thanked the city for including Pontchartrain Park in its flood mitigation projects.

"That combined with what we’re doing and the fact that it’s just a great historic community is going to mean a lot for people in this area, and in our city,” he said.

Volunteers for Saturday's event are to meet at 9:45 a.m. in the lot across from Bethany United Methodist Church and plant until 1 p.m. To volunteer for that or other tree-planting events, contact Rachel Conway rconway@soulnola.org/ or 504-233-4639.