The Lorax and The IHOP Promotion – DLNR Works With Corporate Head Quarters to End Distribution of Non-Native Seeds

Hawai‘i theater goers enjoying the new movie, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” and its theme of protecting local tree species can help honor that message by supporting the use of native Hawaiian plants rather than non-native species.

IHOP Restaurants on the mainland are giving out bookmarks with seeds with every Lorax Breakfast purchased. (see bottom right)

To that end, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) worked with local IHOP managers and the IHOP corporate headquarters in California last week to voluntarily discontinue the distribution of promotional bookmarks embedded with seeds at Hawai‘i IHOP locations.

“Thanks to the quick action of DLNR and others involved, we have turned a potentially negative situation into a positive one by expanding on the movie’s underlying message of being better stewards of our natural environment,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “The collaborative effort to discontinue the distribution of spruce seeds engages those who may not be aware of the importance of the ‘right plant in the right place.’ Our forests will thrive with more native flora and that benefits all of us.”

The bookmarks are part of a promotional campaign for Universal Pictures’ new movie release, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” in which IHOP customers are being encouraged to help the Lorax by planting trees. The bookmarks are embedded with Engelmann spruce seeds, which are native to parts of the U.S. mainland but not to Hawai‘i.

IHOP in Hawai‘i has voluntarily discontinued distribution of seeds, and the DLNR and the Coordinatig Group on Alien Pest Species have partnered with native Hawaiian plant nurseries to create an exchange program so that any Hawai‘i resident IHOP customers who may already have received a seed-laden bookmark can exchange their spruce seed bookmark for a free native Hawaiian plant.

While the specific species included in the bookmark may not pose a high risk to Hawai‘i’s native plants, other species of spruce trees have been observed to be invasive in parts of the Pacific, where they replace native plants and the animals that depend on them.

IHOP’s corporate office demonstrated its commitment to protecting the environment by also discontinuing this promotion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Engelmann spruce is also a nonnative species.

“We want to be responsible caretakers of our environment. When we learned that the trees in question would not be the best choice for Hawai‘i, we responded quickly. We hope our guests will take advantage of this exchange opportunity,” stated Patrick Lenow, spokesman for IHOP Restaurants.

First published in 1971, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a fictional story of a pristine environment where truffula trees provide food, clean air, and habitat for a community of unique animals. As they are overharvested to extinction, the Lorax tries to point out the environmental importance of the trees, but to no avail. The animals leave and the environment is left in ruins. However, the end of the story is one of hope: replant the truffula trees to restore the environment.

“Updating the message of The Lorax to include the value of native species is key for the next generation of conservationists to understand the problems facing our environment,” said Joshua Atwood, coordinator for the interagency Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council housed at the DLNR.

“An important part of The Lorax story is that the truffula trees grow nowhere else, and the Lorax is there to protect that limited resource. Similarly, many of Hawai‘i’s native plants and animals only exist on these islands, and we need to do what we can to protect them. That includes planting native, rather than nonnative, species whenever possible.”

One of the nurseries providing plants for the exchange is Hui Ku Maoli Ola, the largest native Hawaiian plant nursery in the state. “We believe in the importance of perpetuating our native flora as a part of our unique culture and environment,” said Matt Kapaliku Schirman, Hui Ku Maoli Ola co-founder. “This is a great opportunity to help protect and restore the Hawaiian environment.”

DLNR also thanks the Native Nursery and Big Island Plants or Ku ‘Oh‘ia Laka, whose exchange agreements were facilitated by the Maui and Big Island Invasive Species Committees.

IHOP customers who received a Lorax bookmark can exchange the seed-embedded bookmark for a native Hawaiian plant free of charge through the end of April, 2012 at the following participating nurseries:

O‘ahu: Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plant Nursery, 46-403 Haiku Rd, Kane‘ohe, HI, 96744, Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. – noon, closed Sunday, Contact: (808) 235-6165, www.hawaiiannativeplants.com

Maui: Native Nursery and Ho‘olawa Farms, exchange facilitated by the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), Contact MISC at (808) 573-6472

Hawai‘i Island: Big Island Plants or Ku ‘Oh‘ia Laka, exchange facilitated by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), Contact: BIISC at (808) 933-3345

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