Tuesday, August 02, 2005

CNN covers cypress logging

Once again, cypress logging and Louisiana's sinking land mass makes national headlines. CNN reported the problem thus:

After the Civil War, the state's coastal forests extended out to the Gulf of Mexico. Early loggers cut those down and many areas never re-grew. Instead, low-lying parts of the coast were taken over by shrubs and grasses. Logging and other factors, ranging from oil and natural gas drilling to construction of levees, led to the degradation of soil and hydrology in many areas that were formerly an Amazon-like rain forest.

Oliver Houck, an environmental lawyer at Tulane University, said: "Talking about regenerating cypress in these ecosystems is like talking about regenerating oak forests in Manhattan."

Why are cypress trees being cut down today? Garden mulch:
"It's being sold at all the main retail stores, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes -- that we know of," said Barry Kohl with the Louisiana Audubon Society. Environmentalists are now passing out brochures against cypress mulch at garden club meetings, he added.

"Why should you take a 100-year-old cypress tree and put it on a plant," grumbled Rocky Rakocy, a 50-year-old crabber and catfisherman in Manchac. "They're dying and there aren't many left. Leave 'em alone."

Governor Blanco is, by some accounts, trying to build support in a series of public hearings on the issue, with the goal of establishing a moratorium on cypress logging in at least the most endangered habitats.

Amy Wold covered the public hearings last week for the Baton Rouge Advocate. The problem is how to get private landowners to agree to a moratorium. About 80 percent of Louisiana cypress forests are privately owned.

At least one landowner stated in a recent meeting that he'd follow the recommendations of a recent scientific report published by the governor's office in areas where new trees can no longer grow because of too much flooding or saltwater intrusion.

Other landowners and timber companies, however, believe government shouldn't be allowed to issue any regulations restricting logging on private property.

Also worth noting, this is not just an issue about protecting Louisiana's coastline and cypress wetlands. It is in the unique cypress/tupelo forests of Louisiana where hope remains that the mythic ivory-billed woodpecker may have the best chance of having escaped extinction. Earlier this year, scientists thought they spotted one in Arkansas.


At 8/02/2005 06:37:00 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Here's an interesting recommendation from Florida, where the Australian Pine tree is a horribly invasive species that has wreaked havoc with the fragile Everglades ecosystem: this

As for concern for the ivory billed woodpecker, check this out for an interesting story about how the private land issue was dealt with to help save the red cockaded woodpecker in Georgia and the Carolinas. Louisiana supposedly has an HCP (habitat conservation plan) but after some cursory searching I couldn't find out how it would relate to/affect the cypress issue.

At 8/04/2005 08:39:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...


Excellent links. Thanks for posting them, and thanks for visiting.


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