With the help of hundreds of local and visiting students and volunteers, Common Ground Relief planted over 5,500 bottomland hardwood trees and restored five miles of Louisiana’s fragile, eroding coastline in 2017. Over 500 volunteers are already scheduled to plant another 6,000 trees and 30,000 marsh grass plugs in 2018, announced Thom Pepper, Executive Director of Common Ground Relief.
“When you think about the sustainability of Greater New Orleans and those communities across Louisiana below I-10, stabilizing and rehabilitating our coastline is one of our greatest needs,” said Thom Pepper.
In addition to restoring shoreline this year, Common Grounds Relief also:
- Planted 5,560 bottomland hardwood and native fruit/nut trees
- Planted 18,000 marsh grass plugs
- Enhanced 52 acres of forest habitat
- Utilized 9655 hours of volunteer service
- Engaged 450 local student volunteers through school-based programs
A significant percentage of Common Ground Relief’s volunteers come from colleges and universities with strong environmental science, forestry, botany and civil engineering programs. Common Ground Relief has seen an uptick in involvement from local schools in Orleans. Common Ground Relief’s Wetlands Education Program provides students with a unique, hands-on experience in which they learn about local ecosystems and flora, as well as make a demonstrable difference to the surrounding wetlands.
“The interest we’re starting to see from schools and other youth and service-oriented entities, like the Boy Scouts, is absolutely fantastic,” said Pepper. “Developing environmental awareness and connections in the local community is crucial to the sustainability of our programming and survivability of our coastal ecosystem.”
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Common Ground Relief relies on donations, grants, and sponsors to support its mission-related programming. With the continued engagement of school groups and local businesses, as well as the year-end fundraising campaign and other fundraising efforts, Common Ground Relief will achieve the following 2018 goals and make a real difference for Louisiana:
- Plant 6,000 native trees and 30,000 marsh grass plugs
- Engage 500 local K-12 students in our Environmental Education & Outreach Program
- Enhance the Green Job Training and Green Job Placement Program for the incarcerated in Louisiana’s state prisons
- Assist local Native American tribes with green infrastructure projects
- Continue providing low wealth individuals with free legal services
Common Ground Relief was founded in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild Southeast Louisiana communities in a sustainable, community-focused manner. Over the years, the organization grew to include a robust environmental program, a free legal clinic, and job training programs, including a highly successful reentry effort for state prisoners. Putting boots on the ground for coastal restoration has been a major component of Common Ground Relief’s mission since its inception.
“Common Ground Relief has built a strong network of community activists and volunteers over the years,” said Pepper. “There is demand locally and nationally of people who want to get involved, learn more and do something to help save our wetlands. We have unparalleled capacity to tap into that demand and transform interest and goodwill into outcomes.”
Since its inception, thousands of youth and adults have participated in Common Ground Relief’s education, wetlands restoration and construction and green job training programs. To learn more about Common Ground Relief or to support their programs please visit commongroundrelief.org.