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Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Bulletin: News for Members

by Jennifer Hattam

Southern Appalachia, Pacific Coast, Sierra Nevada, Hawaii, Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia


Southern Appalachia
Take a Tour de Stench

Organic farmers Chris and Christy Korrow got a nasty surprise in November 1998, when poultry-processing giant Cagle's-Keystone plopped a facility housing more than 350,000 chickens on the opposite bank of Kentucky's Cumberland River.

Swarms of flies and noxious smells emanating from across the river prompted the Korrows, members of the Sierra Club's Cumberland Chapter, to take action. They helped pass a county ordinance strictly limiting the number of new chicken houses, and hosted a canoe trip down the Cumberland last fall to gain support for similar regulations in other counties.

"We wanted to get people out on the water so they make the connection between how beautiful the river is and how factory farms are threatening it," says Aloma Dew, a Club staffer who is helping organize tours of poultry and pig factories as part of a national campaign to impose a moratorium on these huge polluting "farms." The trips, dubbed "Tours de Stench," will begin in Kentucky this summer because, Dew says, "that's when it's the stinkiest!"

For more information on factory farms see the Sierra Club's Clean Water site.


Pacific Coast
Otay Gets the OK

A self-proclaimed "desert rat par excellence," Nick Ervin has been fighting for public lands with the Sierra Club's San Diego Chapter since he moved to California 20 years ago. "What keeps me going is the beauty of the landscape and how it's so threatened," Ervin says.

His hard work paid off in the Otay Mountains, 18,500 acres of chaparral, oak woodlands, and coastal sage scrub along the U.S.

Mexico border, about 15 miles from the coast. "The Otay is a rare big chunk of open space in an otherwise very crowded county," says Ervin, "but its rugged mountain peaks and steep canyons have never gotten much attention."

Not, that is, until Ervin and other activists enlisted the Bureau of Land Management and the Border Patrol to help draft a protection plan and convince Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to push for wilderness legislation. The result was the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act, which President Clinton signed into law in December.


Sierra Nevada
Forest No Place for Fairway

Inyo National Forest is home to ancient bristlecone pines, pristine lakes, fragile meadows, winding streams, and rugged peaks. What better place for a golf course? Or so the Forest Service thought when it approved Snowcreek Golf Course's plan to expand onto 95 acres of the 1.9-million-acre forest, which runs along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada.

The proposal outraged Toiyabe Chapter activist and avid climber Andy Selters. Citing the Forest Service's own loophole-ridden prohibition against "urban-type recreation" and concerns about sprawl and chemical contamination, the Toiyabe Chapter filed suit to block the course. Last summer the agency bowed to the activists' pressure and withdrew its proposal.

"This campaign wasn't just about a few acres here," Selters says. "We were fighting a threat to the way the Forest Service manages all of its lands."

See the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter.


Hawaii
Beachfront Battle

Maui's rural north shore is cherished as a haven from the hectic urban lifestyle, but its Baldwin Beach recently became a battleground in the war on sprawl.

The Sierra Club's Maui Group came out swinging against a proposal to build a 30-home luxury subdivision on the dunes fronting the beach. Group volunteers mobilized community members to sign petitions, testify at Maui County Council meetings, and wave signs along the Hana Highway during commute hours. In January, the Council Planning Commission responded to the year-long battle and voted unanimously against corporate developer A&B's planned subdivision.

"As a twenty-two-year resident of Maui, I've seen changes that I haven't always been happy about," says Rob Parsons, a Maui Group volunteer. "But rather than look for the next best place, I'm going to stay here and help shape the kind of community in which I want to live."

See the Sierra Club Hawai'i Chapter.


Atlantic Coast
Species Savers

Sierra Club volunteers from eastern Canada to the Florida Keys are tallying monarch butterflies as they flutter past and counting horseshoe crabs spawning at high tide.

The two monitoring projects are a natural combination. "Monarchs and horseshoe crabs are captivating species, and both are in trouble," says Club Atlantic Coast ecoregion representative Mike D'Amico. "If we act, we can reverse this downward trend." Volunteers will also be planting milkweed, which monarchs need to reproduce, and trying to create spawning sanctuaries and "no-take" reserves for horseshoe crabs.

The crabs are a key element of the food chain, providing sustenance for juvenile loggerhead sea turtles, many species of finfish, and migrating shorebirds. To get involved with the monitoring projects, contact Mike D'Amico at mike.damico@sierraclub.org.

For more information, see the Sierra Club's Habitat website.


Victory at Sea

The Sierra Club has always been a part of Helen Lofgren's life. "When I was growing up in Berkeley in the early 1950s, my Girl Scout troop leaders were Club members who taught us about wilderness," Lofgren says.

Now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Lofgren has put her love for wild places to use as an activist with the Eastern Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club. In December, the chapter's newly formed conservation committee won its first campaign, securing a 12-year moratorium on oil-and-gas exploration and extraction at Georges Bank, the rich offshore habitat between Nova Scotia and Cape Cod. A dedicated cadre of activists lobbied government officials and informed local residents about how oil-and-gas drilling could poison whales and sea turtles, as well as the traditional fishing grounds. The Canadian moratorium now matches that of the United States, where Georges Bank has been declared off-limits to energy companies until at least 2012.


To spotlight Sierra Club activism in your area, contact Jennifer Hattam at jennifer.hattam@sierraclub.org.


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