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In This Issue of the Sierra Club Insider:
Factory Farm Pollution Stinks
Tell Exxon to Pay Its Bill
America's Forests: Not For Sale
Why the Endangered Species Act Works
New Jersey Expands Health Coverage
Good News for the Great Bear Rainforest
Explore: The Sierra Club's National Activist Outings Program
Enjoy: Survive This! Sierra's 10th Wild Journeys Contest
Protect: Building Environmental Community, One Canyon at a Time
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Sierra Club InsiderFebruary 21, 2006
Factory Farm Pollution Stinks
chicken farmYou may not like to think about where your chicken comes from, but the truth is that America's drinking water, rivers, and lakes are at risk from giant, corporate-owned factory farms. These concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) confine thousands of animals in one facility and produce staggering amounts of animal waste in the process (2.7 trillion pounds per year). Too often, this waste leaks into our rivers and streams, fouls our air, contaminates our drinking water, and spreads disease. Ew, right? Arkansas writer Suzi Parker digs into the dirty secrets of the booming poultry industry, explaining how your love of oven-stuffer roasters is destroying lives and landscapes across the South. (Parker's story is part of a Grist special series, "Poverty & the Environment," on the intersection of economic and ecological survival.) When you're done reading, learn more and do something about it.

Tell Exxon to Pay Its Bill
Sierra Club Chronicles -- our new monthly TV series -- takes on Exxon, and you can too when you host a house party. In January, ExxonMobil announced record-breaking annual profits. But the world's largest oil company has yet to pay a penny in the damages owed to Alaskan fishermen from the Exxon-Valdez oil spill almost seventeen years ago. After a hearing last month at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the fishermen are awaiting a decision on whether the 30,000 plaintiffs affected by the spill will get the $4.5 billion in damages they were awarded.

The Day the Water DiedHelp send Exxon a message. Host a house party on Friday, March 24th (the anniversary of the spill), to screen the episode "The Day the Water Died." After watching the episode, you can host a discussion and take action through our Web site. You can even call-in toll free to hear the Sierra Club's Alaska Representative and special guests provide more background on the fight with Exxon. For details on hosting a house party and to order your free DVD, go to

America's Forests: Not for Sale!
National Forests Not For SalePresident Bush's proposed 2007 budget flies in the face of widespread opposition to recent proposals to privatize some of this country's most treasured public lands. Ignoring the recent defeat of similar proposals in Congress, the President is proposing to sell off 800,000 acres of National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands to raise money for the federal treasury. Sign the Sierra Club's petition opposing the billion-dollar public land sell-off scheme and learn more.

Why the Endangered Species Act Works

eagleDischarge sick patients from the hospital before they've recovered? Sounds like bad medicine, but that's what Congressman Richard Pombo is proposing in his changes to the Endangered Species Act, which passed the House last fall. Pombo argues that the law doesn't do its job in recovering species. But tell that to the bald eagle, an American icon. With breeding pairs up from 413 in 1963 to more than 7,000 today, the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the bald eagle from the endangered species list, another indication that the Endangered Species Act works and works well. In its 30-year history, it has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of all species ever listed under its protections. Rep. Pombo's proposed changes are "all about funneling taxpayer subsidies to big developers," according to the Sierra Club's Bart Semcer. Send a message to Congress that the Endangered Species Act needs to be allowed to continue to do its job.

New Jersey Expands Health Coverage
New Jersey VictoryIt took eight years of lobbying and grassroots pressure by the New Jersey Chapter and its allies, but in December the New Jersey legislature passed a measure requiring insurance companies that cover wellness medication prescriptions such as those for diabetes, high blood pressure -- and especially if they cover male-only medication that rhymes with "Niagra" -- to also cover female contraceptives. New Jersey, the nation's most densely populated state, becomes the 24th state to pass such a law. Republican legislator Charlotte Vandervalk, one of the bill's champions, argued that the long-term costs to women faced with a pregnancy, miscarriage, or abortion far outweighed any perceived upfront costs in insurance. Learn more about the Sierra Club's Global Population and the Environment Program.

Good News for the Great Bear Rainforest
spirit bearOn February 7, British Columbia announced that nearly 5 million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest -- an area roughly the size of New Jersey -- will be kept off-limits to logging. The region supports one of the highest concentrations of grizzly bears in North America, as well as habitat for the rare "spirit bear" (pictured at left), coastal wolves, mountain goats, and a unique species of goshawk. Last fall the Sierra Club asked activists to write B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, urging protection of the Great Bear. According to the New York Times, "A deluge of postcards and demonstrations by groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace at shareholders meetings and retail outlets pressed American, Japanese and European hardware chains to shun products from the area." So to those of you who wrote, spoke out, sat in, boycotted, or demonstrated, we say, "Thank you!"

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First You Hike, Then You Organize

The Sierra Club's national activist outings program shows off wild areas that need help while also training participants to become advocates for those areas after they return home. Space is still available on summer and early fall trips to wild Nevada (July 6-12), Utah (Aug. 27-Sept. 4), Idaho (Sept. 8-16), and Vermont (Sept. 10-17). Check out our Web site for more information. If cost is a deterrent, ask about partial scholarships -- some chapters may be able to help if you become an official chapter representative.

Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands
Drool, Win Valuable Prizes

You've been trapped by an avalanche -- how can drooling help you to survive? Answer this and five other wilderness survival questions correctly, and you could win a $1,000 certificate toward any trip from Sierra Club Outings. Other prizes include a Patagonia backpack and an Endurance! sleeping bag. Sierra magazine's tenth Wild Journeys contest appears in the March/April issue of Sierra.

Wild Journeys Contest


Building Environmental Community, One Canyon at a Time

As a grassroots organization, the Sierra Club has long brought neighbors together to tackle local environmental issues. In San Diego County, the San Diego Canyons Campaign is helping residents protect the canyons and streams that run through their backyards. According to organizer Eric Bowlby, "People who have never even said hello to each other are suddenly becoming friends and working together for a common cause -- the preservation and restoration of their neighborhood canyon."

Debbie Knight, who founded Friends of Rose Canyon in 2002 to help stop a proposed road and bridge that would slice the canyon at its widest point, says, "I take a lot of elected officials or their staff to see the canyon. If they don't see it, it's easy to look at a map and say, 'Oh, that dotted line, it's a good idea to have a road there.'" Friends of Rose Canyon, one of 32 "friends groups," now boasts more than 1,500 members, including some who have run successfully for local planning groups. Those are Girl Scout volunteers Allise Ditzler and Gena Katzer in Rose Canyon below cutting down fennel plants, which crowd out native plants and wildlife.

San Diego Canyons Campaign
Photos: Chicken Farm (USDA) | Parkistan (Ted Rall) | spirit bear (Marni Grossman) | Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands (Craig Deutsche) | Wild Journeys Contest (Christoph Hitz) | San Diego Canyons Campaign (Deborah Knight)