Isn't Louisiana susceptible enough to natural disasters? Now, 18 months after Katrina, it turns out that some of the state's coastal cypress forests, which help protect against storm surges by absorbing excess wind and water, are being clear-cut to make mulch, the soil stabilizer found in many gardens. Removing these trees could aggravate the impact of the next big storm. "People who garden should be disturbed that critical forests are being shredded just to end up in their flower beds," says Sierra Club's Orli Cotel. Chuck Corbitt, CEO of Corbitt Manufacturing, a top mulch supplier, told TIME that some of his mulch--including bags labeled FLORIDAGOLD--comes from Louisiana cypress but denied that it originates in endangered coastal forests. A Home Depot spokesman says the retailer is re-evaluating Corbitt. Wal-Mart is investigating consumer concerns, and an employee plans to visit the region to study the issue. Environmentalists say mulch made from pine straw or pine bark can be an effective alternative. "Cutting down cypress forests to make mulch is like melting down the Liberty Bell to make paper clips," says Dan Favre, campaign organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network. "A national treasure is being destroyed to make a disposable product."