NEW ORLEANS -- A sanctuary inside the city that's been missing since Hurricane Katrina is set to return to New Orleans in less than a year.
The Audubon Nature Institute's Nature Center closed it's doors after Hurricane Katrina tore apart the facility in New Orleans East, but it could reopen soon.
Hundreds of volunteers gather Saturday (Nov. 12) to replant the native trees that had been killed by flood water and replaced by invasive species after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans over 10 years ago.
"After Katrina, this whole area here was flooded with salt water," said David Niebuhr with the Audubon Institute. "It took out most of our natural plants."
All but the Chinese Tallow Trees, an invasive species, were left until crews ripped them out this year. Now, marsh trees, bald cypress, butter bushes and maple trees donated by Citgo and The NOLA Tree Project cover the area. By the end of the year, 2,000 new trees and plants will be installed.
It's all part of a $7,000,000 project to rebuild the Nature Center, including the exhibition pavilion, classrooms and 4,000 feet of trails and boardwalks.
All through the different ecosystems that we have, the pond, the seasonal pond, the woods .. just so people can enjoy a little bit of rural, coastal, bottomland forest," Niebuhr said.
The Nature Center is expected to reopen on Earth Day in April, 2017. The Planetarium is also under construction, but no date has been set for its reopening.