Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riverkeeper, Industry Spar on Cypress Mulch; the Dispute Is on Whether It Hurts Wetlands

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Riverkeeper, Industry Spar on Cypress Mulch; the Dispute Is on Whether It Hurts Wetlands

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORRISON

BRUNSWICK -- Insect- and rot-resistant, chipped cypress is a popular landscape mulch.

Consequently, the wetland trees have been over-harvested throughout the Southeast, Satilla Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said. Its impact is felt locally in the bottomlands of the Satilla and Altamaha rivers and in upland flatwoods ponds.

Some industry insiders say there is no problem.

Procurement forester Ken Jorishie of U.S. Mulch in Nahunta said cypress is a renewable resource.

"Cypress is a crop like any other crop and, when mature, needs to be harvested," he said. "As long as we cut above the root collar, the tree will regenerate itself."

In theory, Rogers agreed. But he and other environmentalists see the harvesting of cypress as harmful to wetlands. Wetland destruction and the gradual drawdown of the water table is causing potentially devastating changes to the ecology of the Southeast.

It takes 500 years to grow a big cypress and about 60 years to grow one large enough to be harvested, Rogers said. That's a hefty price to improve the looks of a flower bed, especially when an eco-friendly alternative is readily available, he said.

Richard Stanisky of Golden Isles Wood Products trades in that alternative. Stanisky converts construction and land-clearing waste into dyed mulch, some the golden color of cypress. His customers include Jekyll Island and Southeast Georgia Health System.

He refuses to use cypress and contends colored mulch is nearly as bug-resistant because the dye contains ammonia. It deteriorates at a slightly higher rate, but lasts a couple of years or more on average.

"We're destroying the marshes getting to the cypresses," Stanisky said. "Let's face it, cypress trees like water."

Stanisky maintains the cypress supply is dwindling, making pure cypress mulch difficult to find. What is most commonly sold is a half-and-half blend of cypress and pine, a product he said is inferior to colored mulch.

Jorishie said U.S. Mulch produces that blend, but has also branched out into colored mulch.

"There's a big push for colored mulch, which we can make out of hardwood bark and other products," he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.