Thursday, June 16, 2005

Act now to protect cypress forests and wetlands

The Coalition for Louisiana Progress has neatly summed up a bill passed in the Louisiana House, and now headed for the floor of the Louisiana Senate:

Senator Mike Smith (D-La., Dist. 31) introduced a concurrent resolution to support action by Congress in directing the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to end use of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to require a permit for clear cutting of Louisiana's cypress forests. Senate Concurrent Resolution 71 would discourage the Corps of Engineers from requiring that forestry practices in Louisiana's forested wetland areas are sustainable.

Contact your state representative now to protect our wetlands.

This resolution comes at a time when the Louisiana delegation to Congress is pressing for increased funding to protect our wetlands and restore our coasts. Cypress forests are crucial to the health of our wetlands. The trees' roots secure the land and prevent erosion, while the canopies provide a resting place for an array of migratory birds. Studies by the state-sponsored Science Working Group on Coastal Wetland Forest Conservation and Use suggest a halt to logging certain cypresses that are unlikely to grow back. You can read the report at:

Many conservation organizations, including the Gulf Restoration Network, the Sierra Club- Delta Chapter, the Mississippi River Basin Alliance and the Louisiana Audubon Council, are calling for a cooperative effort to save Louisiana's cypress swamps.

SCR 71 would allow clear cutting of cypress trees, regardless of age or ability to grow back. As the state tree, the cypress is a large part of Louisiana's identity. SCR 71 passed easily through the House Transportation Committee and is now headed to the full House.

Protect Louisiana culture, and ask your state rep. to vote against SCR 71.

You can view the full text of the bill here.

This measure was positively created to support the Vitter provision, which was inserted into coastal restoration legislation now on the floor of the US Senate (S.728). If Vitter's provision is passed, it will permit the unregulated decimation of vast tracts of private land, vacating precious wetland forests of any cypress and tupelo. It will give a green light to eliminate habitat that is already disappearing at alarming rates. These are, coincidentally, areas in which the last hope remains of saving the mythic ivory-billed woodpecker.

The La. Senate bill (SCR 71) was passed by a vote of 34 to 0. It is now in the La. House Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works. If passed in committee, it will then be sent to the full House floor for a vote.

Not only must Section 10 be protected, and Vitter's provision be defeated, but a moratorium on cypress logging needs to be established. A good first step toward a complete moratorium would be to follow the example of many communities on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain which have banned the sale of cypress mulch.


Post a Comment

<< Home