By Amy Wold
Advocate staff writer
Baton Rouge, LA (May 23, 2007)- After several years of telling consumers why cypress mulch is bad for the environment, environmental groups in Louisiana are turning their attention to the home-improvement stores that sell mulch. At the end of April, leaders of various environmental groups, including the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Sierra Club and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, visited store managers at several stores in Baton Rouge.
Their message: Stop selling cypress mulch and offer customers more variety in alternative mulches. “We understand that this manager doesn’t have the authority to do that, but he can send the message up the chain,” said Marylee Orr, executive director of LEAN.
Don Harrison, public relations manager for the southern division of The Home Depot, said all of the company’s cypress mulch suppliers have assured them none of the mulch comes from coastal Louisiana.
“We are committed to working with our vendors to conserve and preserve natural resources and are dedicated to buying only wood products that have come from forests managed in a responsible way. We will continue to work with our mulch suppliers to eliminate harvesting from unsustainable forests,” Harrison said in an e-mailed statement. He said company representatives plan to talk with cypress mulch suppliers this month about concerns expressed about the product.
Environmental groups are concerned about the market for any cypress mulch because it promotes logging in areas that aren’t able to be regrown in Louisiana. Environmental groups point to a coastal forests science report released several years ago that raised concerns that large areas of the state’s coastal forests won’t be able to regrow if they are logged.
Although cypress can survive long periods of flooding, new trees can’t take root unless the land remains dry long enough for the seedlings to grow above the water line. Coastal land loss, subsidence and structures such as roads have impounded water in certain areas, making those areas unable to be reseeded with cypress after logging, according to the report.
Part of the environmental groups’ campaign is also to raise awareness among consumers that the smaller trees now used for cypress mulch don’t have the insect resistance of the old-growth cypress logged in the past. In addition, they say, many other alternative mulches – pine straw, pine bark and eucalyptus – work as well, or better, than cypress mulch.
Coastal Forests Science Report