By: America's WETLAND Foundation | 4.12.2012
NEW WORLDWIDE TABASCO PACKAGING TO ASK FOR SUPPORT FOR WETLANDS
McIlhenny announces fund-raising effort at Avery Island Forum on Envisioning Coast's Future
AVERY ISLAND, LA -- Paul McIlhenny, chairman and CEO of the McIlhenny Company, announced Wednesday that the company is using Tabasco product packages to take the plight of Louisiana's coastal crisis worldwide.
"We are doing our part in bringing the attention to this serious problem," McIlhenny told reporters at the company's corporate headquarters in Avery Island south of New Iberia Wednesday morning. "To lose what you find in this region would be a catastrophe of international proportions."
On one of the four sides of Tabasco product boxes, there will appear the headline: "Tabasco is hot on America's WETLAND and fired up to help save it." The message, coined by the America's WETLAND Foundation, lets everyone know that Louisiana's wetlands are disappearing at the rate of a football field every hour and directs them to the AWF web site to learn how they can help save it.
McIlhenny, who is a board member of America's WETLAND Foundation, said he was motivated by the threatened loss of the natural wonders of South Louisiana. "This island is emblematic of the natural resources that have been bountiful in Louisiana and are now threatened due to one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion on the planet," McIlhenny said.
Avery Island is atop a salt dome, an area rising slightly above the surrounding flat South Louisiana plains, hence its designation of an island. The surrounding low land is threatened by increasingly stronger storms with higher surges. The McIlhenny Company has spent millions raising the protection levees around their land and factory.
"As a member of the foundation, founded ten years ago, we called this unique place 'America's WETLAND, as it is a national treasure," McIlhenny said. "Today, as millions of cartons of our Tabasco product leave Avery Island, we will send a message of urgency that the clock is ticking and everyone should be part of the movement to save America's WETLAND."
Valsin A. Marmillion, managing director of the America's WETLAND Foundation, said that like all individual contributions, any money raised as a result of the worldwide Tabasco appeal will go to help fund restoration projects, including marsh plantings of grasses and cypress trees undertaken by AWF with volunteers.
Several years ago, when McIlhenny inserted a small pamphlet about the plight of Louisiana's coast into Tabasco boxes, the America's WETLAND Foundation heard from folks all over the U.S. and from as far away as Moscow. The company sells Tabasco in 166 countries, packaging in 22 languages.
"We got heartwarming notes, such as one from a little boy who was contributing his allowance," Marmillion said. A couple in North Carolina hosted a Gumbo party - no doubt spiced with Tabasco - and sent us the donations from their friends. A couple in New York City was inspired to ask their wedding guests to contribute to the wetlands."
"Tabasco is one of those worldwide, iconic products, so this is helping us raise awareness about Louisiana's coastal crisis all over the world," Marmillion said. "The foundation is deeply appreciative of the McIlhenny personal and corporate commitment to our work.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne thanked McIlhenny for using his family's 168-year-old product to spread alarm about coastal land loss. "Cultures are threatened," Dardenne said. "The economic livelihood of the nation is threatened."
McIlhenny announced the Tabasco packaging campaign during Wednesday's "Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Forum, the last of 10 held over the past year from South Padre Island to Orange Beach flower. The BRRC initiative, sponsored by the America's WETLAND Foundation, has invited coastal leaders and stakeholders to forums in an attempt to spread accurate information about what the future holds and to help local communities begin envisioning their future and make the choices they must make in order to achieve resiliency. As part of those forums, Entergy Corp. has presented the results of its $4.2 million study of coastal assets that predicts that, if nothing is done to protect coastal communities, losses will be $350 billion by 2030, when losses due to storms, erosion, man-made and natural disasters could the domestic product of the region.
"Our endangered coastal communities must come to terms with their challenges and begin now planning for a more resilient future," Marmillion said.
The America's WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in Louisiana's history, raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana's wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The America's Energy Coast initiative works to sustain the environmental and economic assets of the Gulf Coast region. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information, visit www.americaswetland.com or www.futureofthegulfcoast.org.
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