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Group: CO Shoppers Should Pick Mulch Without ‘Storm Surge Protection’

August 28, 2007

A simple bag of garden mulch from your local hardware store or home center could contain the remains of an important protection against Gulf Coast hurricanes. Cypress mulch, which is often produced from trees cut from southern swamplands, is now on a "no buy" list, created by a coalition of conservation groups two years after Katrina. The groups are circulating that list in Colorado and across the nation, according to Leslie March, with the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club in Louisiana.

"The cypress tree is valuable and we believe it is wrong to take whole trees and grind them up in a mulching machine, just so people can pour the pieces on their yards for one, or maybe two seasons. It just seems like a real waste."

Cypress swamps provide key protection against storm surges. March says there are plenty of other more sustainable options that can be found in the same stores where cypress mulch is sold.

"Pine bark, pine needles, melaleuca, and eucalyptus are grown specifically to make mulch."

Producers say they only use cypress timber waste to make mulch, not entire trees. But March argues her group has witnessed entire Louisiana cypress trees being mulched and packaged into bags that are labeled as being produced in Florida. She says consumers can make a difference by refusing to buy the product.

"For every bag that’s purchased, they’re encouraging the loggers to go back in and cut more cypress, essentially chipping away at our hurricane protection."

The mulch may not always be labeled as Louisiana cypress. More information is available at www.saveourcypress.org.

Eric Mack/David Law, Public News Service - CO