by Jenny Coyle
My, What A Big Beak You Have
"Told you so."
That's what former Sierra Club board of directors member Les Reid is
saying. Or at least he's thinking it.
In 1987, when a captive breeding program was proposed for California's 22 endangered
wild condors, Reid adamantly opposed the plan. The process will tame them, he said; our
efforts should go to preserving more condor range.
But captured they were, and bred, and now 49 of them are flying wild...that is, if
Reid's house is considered wilderness.
One day in August, Reid heard a commotion upstairs in his Southern California home and
found that eight of the birds -- with average wingspans of nine feet -- had busted through
a screen door and seized control of his bedroom.
"One was on the bed and the other seven were sitting on a cot," he said.
"They were just looking at me. I think they were Sierra Club members having a meeting
and since there were eight of them they couldn't reach consensus on what to tear up
Reid and the birds, 15 of which have made themselves at home in the small town of Pine
Mountain Club, have earned celebrity status with coverage in the New York Times, National
Public Radio, ABC World News Tonight and People magazine.
And AnotherClub Celebrity
"It started as a story about shark-finning, I swear," insists Jeffrey
Mikulina, Hawai'i Chapter director for the Sierra Club.
Except that shark-finning isn't mentioned at all in the tiny article accompanying the
giant photo of bare-chested Mikulina holding a surfboard in the October issue of Details
Mikulina spent time with a magazine reporter on a press tour to fill her in on all
kinds of local issues. He gave her details about finning, the brutal -- and legal --
practice in which long-line fishing boats hook sharks, lop off their fins and throw the
maimed creature back in the sea to drown. The fins, used in shark fin soup, fetch $50 a
pound. Mikulina says over 60,000 sharks were slaughtered last year alone.
There were too many details, apparently, for the editors at Details, who instead sent a
photographer with orders to get the usually pony-tailed Mikulina with his hair down,
holding his surfboard under a palm tree.
The text gives him credit for "wrangling with bureaucrats" and "trying
to persuade local politicians that no, the unspoiled coastline of Kauai doesn't need a new
But there's no ignoring the photo.
"I look all greasy and it looks like I have two black eyes," laments
Still More Fame and Glory
It was a dark and stormy afternoon at the airport outside Baltimore. Hurricane Floyd
had caused two flights to be canceled for Ozark (Missouri) Chapter director Ken
Midkiff. He was working with a ticket agent to arrange a flight out the next
morning when another agent stopped and glanced at Midkiff's ticket.
"Ken Midkiff?" she asked. "You work for the Sierra Club, right? I've
seen your picture and writing in that Sierra Club publication."
"Sierra magazine?" an astonished Midkiff replied.
Nope. Turns out she meant The Planet.
Then she made Midkiff's day. Turning to the other ticket agent, she said, "Get him
in first class." And they did --at no extra charge.
"It felt strange sitting up there with the upper crust," Midkiff said.
(Maybe it was his reward for delivering a prize-worthy sound bite the previous day. It
was spoken at an outdoor press conference to announce the release of the Club's report
"Corporate Hogs at the Public Trough." When it started to rain, the group moved
inside a Lutheran church -- everyone, that is, except for the live pig they had on hand
for the press conference. A reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked Midkiff why
the pig was left outside. "Because he's not Lutheran," Midkiff quipped. And they
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