Over 40 organizations in Florida have already signed on to the greater Save Our Cypress Coalition. Now we are making sure that Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart hear specifically from organizations in one of the states most effected by cypress mulch production. The pictures and the open letter to the retailers tell the story. If you’d like add your organization’s good name to this letter, please send me an email at joe@healthygulf.org.Robert Niblock, CEOLowe’s Companies, Inc.1000 Lowe’s BoulevardMooresville, NC 28117H. Lee Scott, CEOWal-Mart Stores, Inc.702 S.W. 8th StreetBentonville, AR 72716Frank Blake, CEOThe Home Depot, Inc.2455 Paces Ferry Rd. NWAtlanta, GA 30339Dear Sirs,We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about The Home Depot, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Lowe’s Inc. contributing to the destruction of cypress forests and wetlands in Florida, the Gulf Coast and throughout the country. Cypress deforestation for mulch is compromising the sustainability of our wetlands, coastal areas, and our natural systems. As Floridians, and Florida organizations we formally request that your stores immediately cease all sales of cypress mulch.Cypress forests, wetlands, and natural systems in Florida provide an incredible array of critical natural functions both to people and wildlife. Some of these ecosystems services include:” Helping to ensure a safe and sustainable water supply as cypress domes and wetlands act as natural filters in areas of aquifer recharge. This is critical to our water supply.” Helping to reduce flooding and protect ever expanding human communities from flooding and storm surge.” Providing habitat for threatened and endangered species” Ensuring the health of our commercial and recreational fisheries by stabilizing habitat and ensuring healthy and productive aquatic and coastal ecosystems.” Providing places for birders, hunters, hikers, and outdoor recreation and outdoor recreation based economic activity.In a state with a population rapidly passing 18 million people we must continue to redefine sustainability. As more of natural Florida is lost and our wetlands and water based natural resources are increasingly developed, what may have been considered an acceptable practice in the past is no longer. We need cypress trees in our wetlands, in our swamps, in cypress domes, and in bottom land forests not in plastic bags as mulch.Areas in Florida that are experiencing large loss of cypress forests, including places like Florida’s Panhandle and Florida’s Nature Coast, are facing tremendous development pressures. The cypress systems that are currently still in place are essential to the future of these regions.Sustainable mulch alternatives exist, and some are already capable of delivering on the commercial scale that your companies require. The innovative FloriMulch is made from melaleuca, an invasive species that is harming Florida’s Everglades and wetlands systems in southwest and southeast Florida. Removing melaleuca from natural systems and using it for mulch is a win-win for Florida’s Everglades, and Florida cypress. Additionally pine straw can be raked up from existing pine plantations to provide sustainable mulch on a very large scale. Other options include pine bark and more creative choices like pecan shells.Individual consumers can only make a small difference, but your companies have the retail power to make an enormous difference towards ensuring that the incredible and necessary natural functions that Florida cypress forests and wetlands provide for people, wildlife, and our drinking water supply are not lost forever.Please be national industry leaders and cease the sale of all cypress mulch products from your stores today. Contact Joe Murphy, Florida Programs Cooridinator for the Gulf Restoration Network, at 352-583-0870 or joe@healthygulf.org to see more evidence of cypress destruction for mulch in Florida and to set up further conversations on this topic.Joe Murphy is the GRN Florida Programs Coordinator.

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