The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has two Cajun Prairie Projects:
What is a Cajun Prairie?
The Cajun Prairie is (was) a 2.5 million acre portion of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Prairie, which extends from Corpus Christi, TX, to the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana. The easternmost portion in Louisiana was settled by the Cajuns, who lend their name to the prairie and the culture. The prairie has been modified by agriculture, oil production and urbanization to the extent that it is greatly imperiled and considered to be 99% destroyed/devoid of native plants. Remnants of the Cajun Prairie were found along rainroads in the 1980's that were mainly untouched and from there seeds were collected to start restoration projects.
- The Cajun Prairie is an excellent habitat/ecosystem to study in order to inculcate the public with ecological principles that are globally applicable and important.
- The Cajun Prairie is a grassland among many global grasslands interconnected with local streams that flow into a global ocean.
- The Cajun Prairie ecosystems sequesters global carbon dioxide and provides habitats for a great variety of organisms, including humans.
Cajun Prairie Root Systems
Prairie plants have roots up to 15 feet deep. Extensive root systems improve the ability of the soil to infiltrate water, reducing runoff and wet conditions. Deep roots decrease erosion by anchoring soil. Prairie plants also increase soil organic matter, storing carbon and rebuilding the soil. Many Cajun Prairie native plants have deep root systems that extend down to 8 feet or more.
Major Plant Families of the Cajun Prairie
Major plant families of the Cajun Prairie include:
- Grasses (and grass-like plants, e. g., Sedges & Rushes)
- Other families, including Louisiana Irises, Orchids, Lilies, Dayflowers, Carrots and many more
Special thanks to Andre B Daugereaux with the Ecology Center for his and his students efforts to preserve and restore the Cajun Prairie by bringing the Cajun Prairie into campus and the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society for their efforts to preserve and restore the Cajun Prairie in Louisiana.