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.
Pacific Coast: RAINFOREST ON WHEELS
Elizabeth Hagan didn't even know there was a rainforest in British Columbia
before she visited the area last summer. "When I thought of Canada, I thought of
igloos!" says Hagan, a sophomore at Harvard University who now coordinates the
Sierra Student Coalition's campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest.
"It's one of the most magical places you could imagine," says Hagan. But Earth's
largest intact temperate rainforest is threatened by the clearcutting of its
ancient trees-over half of which are exported to the United States. To show
Americans how their purchases are endangering this rare ecosystem, Hagan and B.C.
Sierra Club activists Sonya Waite and Leah Wahlberg toured the East Coast in May
in an old school bus, redecorated to simulate a forest. More than 2,000 people
explored the "Rainforest Bus" and learned about clearcutting and alternatives to
old-growth wood products, such as hemp and banana paper. Visitors also signed
some of the 20,000 postcards the Club has collected to ask Home Depot to stop
buying wood from companies that are clearcut-
logging in the Great Bear Rainforest. To find out how you can help, visit
www.sierraclub.ca/bc/ or e-mail
WHERE THE WILDLIFE ROAM
For the past five years, Barry Martin has spied on mountain lions, coyotes,
long-tailed weasels, and other indicator species in San Diego County. Martin, a
Sierra Club member, learned the importance of observing how animals travel in
routes between habitats, or "wildlife corridors," as a volunteer at Los
Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. When corridors are blocked by freeways and other
development, animals can't range far enough to breed, feed, and raise their
Now Martin helps teach new volunteers to identify tracks, scat, and other signs
of wildlife routes at Peñasquitos, adjacent preserves, and throughout the county.
"We're not only collecting data, but empowering people by giving them a chance to
get out and do something," Martin says. Thanks in part to the information they've
already gathered, a frontage road along Interstate 5 will be rebuilt with an
underpass for wildlife.
Atlantic Coast: RESERVOIR REJECTED
Sierra Club members, local residents, and the Mattaponi tribe may have saved a
river and a way of life in Newport News, Virginia. In May, more than 1,000 people
marched the six-mile "Trail of Hope" to show support for the Mattaponi and
opposition to the proposed King William Reservoir. The new lake would have
drained up to 75 million gallons of water a day from the Mattaponi River, which
provides the tribe's traditional livelihood of shad fishing. The 1,500-acre
reservoir would have flooded 437 acres of forested wetlands as well as scores of
archaeological sites and sacred burial grounds.
The protest helped convince Colonel Allan B. Carroll of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to deny a permit for the reservoir, a ruling that Governor James S.
Gilmore III (R) and members of the Virginia congressional delegation are expected
to appeal. "The Army Corps has given us a great victory," says Glen Besa,
director of the Club's Virginia Chapter, "and we're not going to let our
congressmen take it away!"
A HEALTHIER FUTURE
"Everyone dies, but in Wagner's Point, everyone dies of cancer," says Terry
Harris, a law student and member
of the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Committee. Saving the small
working-class south Baltimore community became Harris' crusade when he met
activist Jeanette Skrzecz, a grandmother from Wagner's Point.
After Skrzecz died of cancer in 1998, community members put up posters in their
windows portraying Wagner's Point-which is surrounded by chemical plants,
petroleum tank farms, and a sewage-treatment plant-as a ticking time bomb. "There
were protests at city hall where the entire neighborhood would show up saying,
'We want out! We want out!' " Harris says. Finally, live television coverage of
an October 1998 explosion and fire at a local chemical plant embarrassed the city
government into taking action.
In July, the 300 residents of Wagner's Point began using city, state, and federal
relocation funds to move into new neighborhoods
and on to a healthier future.
A PARK FOR ALL PEOPLE
Activists in Washington, D.C., were delighted when a June coalition-building
event for their campaign against a proposed 1,200-bed prison on Oxon Cove
parkland turned into a celebration. "The zoning commission unanimously decided
that it was an inappropriate use of waterfront property," says Anna El-Eini, vice
chair of the Sierra Club's New Columbia Chapter. Two years ago, Congress gave the
parkland to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) without public input.
But activists made their opposition known through letters, phone calls, and
testimony at public hearings. The Oxon Cove area, which is already home to a
wastewater-treatment plant and an Air Force base, provides local residents access
to the Potomac River, as well as habitat for bald eagles, great blue herons, and
THE GIANTS OF CONGAREE
Visitors to Congaree Swamp National Monument near Columbia, South Carolina, can
commune with loblolly pines towering 150 feet high and a bald cypress measuring
27 feet around. Among these giants dwell some 600 animal and plant species,
including bobcats, barred owls, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
Over a million acres of old-growth floodplain forest once bordered the rivers of
South Carolina, but now only 13,000 acres are leftand 11,000 of them are
preserved in the 22,200-acre monument, which Sierra Club lobbying efforts helped
establish in 1976. Now, after a letter-writing campaign led by Club members,
Congress has appropriated $1 million to protect additional land at Congaree and
preserve more of its awe-inspiring inhabitants.
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@sierra club.org; or fax (415) 977-5794.