Printer Friendly


In 65 chapters and hundreds of local groups spanning 21 ecoregions and two nations, Sierra Club members are hard at work protecting our natural heritage.

Great Basin/High Desert


When a four-lane, 13-mile road was proposed along the southeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, Utah activists knew it was futile to lobby Governor Michael Leavitt. The Republican governor had not only proposed the "Legacy Highway," he was its most passionate supporter. So activists took their case to the federal government.

Local Sierra Club members sent hundreds of letters to the EPA to protest the construction and brought almost 1,000 activists to an agency hearing in October. They also teamed up with farmers and duck hunters, who shared their fear that the highway would turn farmlands into subdivisions and destroy 160 acres of wetlands, along with pelicans, eagles, and other birds. "It makes the message more credible to have all these groups speaking with one voice," says Marc Heileson, conservation organizer for the Club's Southwest office. "We can't be written off as extremists when fifth-generation Mormon farmers are part of the effort."

In January, their voices were heard: the EPA declared that it would veto any highway project across the Great Salt Lake wetlands.


U.S. Air Force officials were so confident their bombing-range expansion plans would be approved, they bid a mere $10 for 960 acres of state land on Idaho's Owyhee plateau at a January auction. But members of the Sierra Club and other conservation groups in the Owyhee Canyonlands Coalition (OCC) had a surprise in store: a $5,000 bid.

"The area is worthy of national-park status," says Roger Singer, conservation coordinator for the Club's Middle Snake Group. "We hoped to raise public attention by bidding in the auction, to make it known that people are determined to protect the area."

The Idaho Land Board ultimately awarded the land to the Air Force, calling the OCC "obstructionist" and questioning the organization's solvency. But media coverage publicized the widespread opposition to the military's plans. Activists hope to rally that concern in defense of adjacent public lands. A majority of Idahoans support wilderness designation for these rugged canyonlands, which are home to elk, deer, and bighorn sheep, and offer world-class rafting opportunities.

Atlantic Coast


Sierra Club volunteer Caroline Karp wasn't surprised by plans to build a huge port on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, and bring 20 container ships, some too big to fit through the Panama Canal, into the bay each week. "The port is absolutely the wrong scale for the bay," Karp says. "But it fits with the backlash against environmental protection that's going on in this state."

Graduate students in Karp's environmental policy seminar exposed potential problems with the megaport by researching crime rates in port cities and likely impacts on transportation patterns. The proposed development could change the shape of the bay (due to dredging); fuel sprawl; destroy habitat for lobsters, clams, and the threatened least tern; and sully the water and air.

The Club got the anti-megaport message out with a "Fish or Foul? Family Festival" highlighting the development's likely effects on the local tourism and fishing industries, and a "Flotilla of Fun" boat-in.

State officials are still pushing for a port, but the huge allied shipping companies Sea-Land and Maersk pulled out of the plan after activists made it clear that the project wouldn't meet water-quality and wetlands requirements.



Most conservation efforts seek to reduce human impact on the environment, but volunteers in Hawaii may be making two wrongs into a right. Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks, in mountainous northwest Kauai, are lush with native vegetation, including at least 22 endangered species and half of the island's rare plants. But this rich ecosystem is threatened by an invasion of fast-growing, non-native plants. Many of the new species were introduced intentionally, like the ornamental Kahili ginger and the strawberry guava, used for reforestation.

Last year, more than 1,400 volunteers, including Club members from Kauai and other Hawaiian islands, cleared 254 acres of more than 600,000 alien plants--and got a hands-on introduction to conservation principles.

To spend part of your vacation helping preserve paradise, contact Kate Reinard at the Kokee Resource Conservation Program, P.O. Box 100, Kekaha, HI 96752, or e-mail kokee@aloha, net.

Rocky Mountains


The Greys River, the longest undammed river in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park, flows through a remote western part of the state. Here in Bridger-Teton National Forest, you'll find big peaks and rocky slopes, meadows and forests, elk, goshawks, lynx--and a history of clearcuts

Last year, nearly 1,000 acres at the headwaters of the upper Greys, which is already rife with sediment, was threatened by a proposed timber sale. Activists charged that the resulting clearcuts and new roads would increase sediment tenfold, fragment wildlife habitat, and damage fisheries.

Thanks to an appeal filed by the Wyoming Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, and other conservation groups, the U.S. Forest Service halted the sale in November.

Across the Nation


The National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club might seem like natural adversaries. But members of these groups in Houston, Texas, have been working together for more than two years to protect the Katy Prairie wetlands, a resting stop for migrating waterfowl. This type of collaboration is hardly an isolated occurrence. The past year saw new efforts by Club activists to organize among hunters, fishers, and farmers. In bringing these often-at-odds constituencies together, Sierra Club chapters across the country are trying to broaden their base of support to include all groups that use (and love) our natural resources. While South Dakota Club members are joining sportsmen to clean up local waterways and wetlands, Oklahoma and Maryland activists are fighting the spread of huge factory farms with the help of family farmers and the African-American community.

* To spotlight Sierra Club activism in your area, contact Jennifer Hattam at Sierra, 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; e-mail jennifer.hattam@; fax (415) 977-5794.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Sierra Magazine
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:environmental action taken in various states
Date:May 1, 1999
Previous Article:Werbach Walks "Thin Green Line".
Next Article:Forests Forever.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters