Mulch ban praised; critic assailed

Sept. 13th 2007 – Baton Rouge, The Advocate:
Wal-Mart is to
be commended for its courageous decision to stop buying and selling
cypress mulch made in Louisiana (“Store drops state’s mulch,” Sept. 6).

But readers will be understandably confused by the
predictions of economic disaster made by Mr. Buck Vandersteen,
executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association.

In the past, he and other mulch promoters have insisted
that cypress mulch is a small, unimportant part of the total production
cycle, a mere byproduct, and that its production is too insignificant
to be of any concern. Now he claims that Wal-Mart’s decision will cause
an entire mill to close.

But his reaction actually reinforces the concerns that a
growing number of Louisiana citizens have about the conversion of our
cypress swamps to mulch.

A growing market at the national and regional retail
levels for mulch demands an ever-growing volume of the product, and we
have already seen the result: more swamps being logged strictly for
mulch. Mere assertions by the LFA that whatever they do is sustainable
are not sufficient.

The LFA’s vision for the future of Louisiana’s cypress
swamps — bagged as mulch at your local big-box store — is not one that
most of the state’s citizens share. Nor do most landowners.

Sadly, the LFA’s insistence on its misleading agenda has
helped deny landowners other opportunities for benefiting from their
lands through innovative alternative programs.

Marylee M. Orr, executive director
Louisiana Environmental Action Network/
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
Baton Rouge