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Wandering Florida

Cypress Trees Belong in the Ground, Not in Bags
By Joe Murphy
Nov 29, 2007 - 3:44:59 PM

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A Florida cypress forest is a beautiful thing.  Cypress trees provide habitat for threatened and endangered species, critical areas for migratory birds, protect our communities from flooding, filter our waters, and are part of the amazing experience of being in nature in Florida.  They are a valuable and intrinsic element of all that is wild and free in Florida. They belong in the ground, in our wetlands, and along our coastlines….not in plastic bags as mulch.

Cypress forests in Louisiana, Florida, and throughout the Gulf are being clear-cut to produce cypress mulch. Whole swamp ecosystems are being lost and the entire trees are being ground up to be sold in the garden departments of Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. These forests and wetlands are literally being sold off for two dollars a bag. It’s like shredding the Constitution to make post-it notes: a national treasure is being turned into a disposable product.

The Gulf Restoration Network and the Save Our Cypress Coalition (www.saveourcypress.org) have presented Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot with extensive evidence of the destruction that is caused from cypress mulch. All three companies recognize it’s a problem, but none of them have taken the concrete step that’s necessary to live up to the environmental commitments that they tout so loudly. The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart need to stop selling cypress mulch.

Cypress mulch is an unsustainable and unnecessary product, and there are other options out there. Melaleuca mulch, harvested from invasive exotic trees, is a great alternative and a way to protect the Everglades while saving cypress trees. Pine straw, pine nuggets, eucalyptus are other alternatives.  And of course, there are always the leaves that fell in the driveway or the grass clippings from your yard.

Cypress Mulch
As a native and life long Floridian, cypress trees are as essential to my existence as Florida beaches and sunsets. They are a part of what makes Florida, Florida. They are essential to the landscape, the culture, the history, and future of this state and all who love her.

The Gulf Restoration Network is proud to be working with groups like the Sierra Club, local Audubon Society Chapters, and Florida Defenders of the Environment to spread the word about protecting cypress forests. Together we can protect wetlands, rivers, and swamps in Florida ensuring their cypress filled banks are there for wildlife, and future generations.

Please take a moment on your next shopping trip to tell the store manager that you don’t want the company to sell cypress mulch, and visit www.healthygulf.org to send a message directly to the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.  Bad things only continue when good people, people of heart and conscience, stay silent.  As the Lorax would remind us, be a voice for and speak for the trees.

To learn more about the campaign and to get involved in this effort please contact Joe Murphy of the Gulf Restoration Network at 352-583-0870, or joe@healthygulf.org


© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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