Soon every package of Tabasco sauce sold around the world will spread the message that Louisiana's coast is in crisis.And so it goes - ever so slowly.
Paul McIlhenny, chairman and CEO of the McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, announced Wednesday that one side of Tabasco product boxes will carry the message: "Tabasco is hot on America's WETLAND and fired-up to help save it."
The package message continues, "You can help by contributing to the America's WETLAND Conservation Corps by visiting www.americaswetland.com."
Contributions will be used to help fund restoration projects such as purchasing cypress trees and marsh grasses that will be planted in coastal wetlands areas, Val Marmillion, managing director of the America's WETLAND Foundation, said.
Researchers say Louisiana's wetlands are disappearing at the rate of a football field every hour. That endangers wildlife and fisheries which depend on the wetlands for food and reproduction. It also endangers communities and lives since wetlands help to buffer the effect of hurricanes and other storms.
"We are doing our part in bringing the attention to this serious problem," McIlhenny said in a news release. "To lose what you find in this region would be a catastrophe of international proportions."
Tabasco is sold in 166 countries, McIlhenny Company is headquartered in Avery Island, south of New Iberia.
"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," said McIlhenny, who is on the board of the America's WETLAND Foundation.
Avery Island sits atop a salt dome, but the surrounding low land is threatened by increasingly stronger storms with higher surges. The McIlhenny Company spent millions raising protection levees around its land and factory.
"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," McIlhenny said.