Arbor Day Rallies Aim to Save Cypress Trees

For immediate release: April 27, 2007For more information: Dan Favre, Gulf Restoration Network, 504-525-1528 ext. 209Arbor Day Rallies Aim to Save Cypress TreesCitizens Call On Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to Stop Selling Cypress MulchNew Orleans, LA- Around the Gulf of Mexico and the country, concerned students, conservationists, gardeners, and ordinary citizens are publicly demanding that Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s stop selling all cypress products. Cypress forests in the Southeast are being clear-cut to feed an unsustainable and unnecessary cypress mulch industry.”Cypress swamps are the Gulf coast’s best natural storm and flood protection, and Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are selling them off at two dollars a bag,” said Jessi Hagan, a Tulane University student who organized the event in New Orleans. “These companies need to stop selling this destructive product.” As the next hurricane season approaches, concerned citizens gathered outside retail outlets for Arbor Day with banners and information about the dangers of cypress deforestation. They also delivered letters to the store managers and encouraged shoppers to address the issue with Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.”Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s all promote themselves as environmentally friendly, but they’re destroying one of the country’s most vulnerable areas,” explained Leslie March from the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Everyone is participating today to let them know that the public won’t put up with their bad behavior.” The young trees of today do not have the rot and insect resistant properties for which old-growth wood was once prized. The University of Florida has shown cypress mulch does not have superior attributes compared to other types of mulch.In Louisiana, many of the cypress cut today will never grow back. That means a permanent loss of important habitat for threatened and endangered species like the ivory-billed woodpecker and the Louisiana black bear. In Florida, panther cypress habitat continues to shrink. A market for cypress mulch encourages wholesale clear-cutting that takes all cypress trees of any size and completely decimates the ecosystem.”The companies keep saying their mulch is sustainable, so all three must just be ignoring the extensive evidence of logging for cypress mulch in endangered areas that we’ve presented them,” said Dean Wilson of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper. “Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Lowe’s need to live up to claims of sustainability and stop selling cypress mulch.” As cypress forests throughout the Southeast continue to fall, sustainable alternatives are being virtually ignored by distributors. Gardeners in Florida have to search hard for melaleuca mulch. Pine plantation operators can’t sell all their pine straw, and timber by-products make up the pine bark nuggets used for mulch.”Clear-cutting cypress forests for mulch is like shredding the Constitution to make post-it notes,” said Dan Favre, Campaign Organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network. “Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are destroying a national treasure to sell an inherently disposable product.” ########

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