A Jersey Shore town attempting to rebuild its boardwalk in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy isn’t finding favor with environmentalist groups. The small town of Avon, New Jersey was awarded a near $1.5 million contract earlier this month to help restore the half mile-long boardwalk – and they chose to use 766 acres of old-growth tropical rainforest wood for the job. Despite protests and discontent from residents and visiting environmentalists who threaten to boycott during tourist season, the city intends to move ahead with its plans.
The controversial wood called ipe (pronounced EE’-pay), a leading exported lumber from Brazil, has already been cut, shipped and is waiting to be transported from a warehouse in North Carolina. Ipe has been lauded for its strength and resistance to rotting in salty environments. “There is a consensus to move ahead,” said Commissioner Frank Gorman, according to the Associated Press, after hearing nearly two hours of objections from residents and out-of-town environmentalists, including Georgina Shanley of Ocean City who helped in keeping her town from using the wood six years prior.
Though Avon city officials argue that the awarded contract requires certification of the ipe wood to ensure that it has been harvested in a sustainable manner, activists against the move aren’t buying it and are pushing for better alternatives like domestic hardwoods or plastic planks.
An attempt to use ipe back in 2007 to re-build a boardwalk in Ocean City was reversed when citizens and environmentalists staged a series of protests. As a result, the city paid over $1 million in a lawsuit by the lumber company.
Via Associated Press