Shrink-wrapped Cypress Swamp: NIMBY

Ivory-billed Woodpecker , Campephilus principa...Image via WikipediaIn reading the May-June Audubon Magazine (thanks Marjory!) I was appalled to learn that the big box stores have been selling bagged mulch made from America’s largest swamp–specifically from Cypress trees (mature and immature indiscriminately) from the Atchafalaya swamps of Louisiana- since 2002.

The environmental services of this swamp are manifold and irreplaceable and grinding it up into shrinkwrap for foundation plantings is supremely irresponsible use of these trees and habitat.

The Audubon piece ( Pulp Fact ) points out that there are better options (pine bark, pecan shells etc) and also highlights the encouraging news that WalMart (as much as I resist handing them kudos for so many other negatives that persist) has backed off this practice while Lowes and Home Depot, less so.

To become part of the solution, please stop by the Save Our Cypress website and send in (with your comments if you want) the form letter encouraging the end to this practice. Make democracy work. Put your mouth where your money is, folks.

The letter to the vendors of cypress mulch reads:

Cypress swamps are vital natural storm protection and necessary habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. The cypress mulch industry has become an imminent threat to cypress forests.

Until a credible, third-party certification program is operating to ensure no products are coming from endangered areas, please stop selling all cypress mulch in your stores, and promote sustainable alternatives instead. We can grow our flowers and still keep our trees.

It’s time to live up to your corporate ideals and policies of sustainability.

See also:

Louisiana to Invest $1 Billion in Coastal Protection, Restoration

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I thought there was a specific prohibition against shipping mulch of any kind from LA to VA because of insect worries. This was a big deal after Katrina and people were worried about bugs in blown over trees showing up in local much. Even then, that concern was unwarranted since the prohibition was in place beforehand. Doesn’t mean they aren’t selling this cypress stuff elsewhere, but not likely in your or my backyard.