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High Desert Committee Wins National Sierra Club Award

SAN FRANCISCO - Sept. 15, 2001 - An Oregon group that helped secure protection for Steens Mountain was among those receiving national awards from the Sierra Club this year.

The High Desert Committee of the Sierra Club's Oregon Chapter received the Sierra Club's 2001 Environmental Alliance Award, which was created in 2001 to honor Sierra Club members or entities who have helped further environmental goals through collaboration with non-Sierra Club constituencies.

The High Desert Committee was selected for creating and leading a coalition that won protection for approximately 900,000 acres of Federal land around Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon.

In October 2000, former President Clinton signed the "Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act of 2000," which places the land covered by the act off limits to mineral and geothermal extraction and designates three new Wild and Scenic Rivers, among other provisions. Passage of this act followed more than two years of intensive negotiations with other Oregon environmental groups, the Bureau of Land Management, area ranchers and a variety of local, state and national politicians.

"The Steens Act safeguards an extraordinary landscape - volcanic uplifts, deep glacial carved gorges, stunning scenery, wilderness, wild rivers and a rich diversity of plant and animal species," said Sierra Club President Jennifer Ferenstein. "The Act is truly a tribute to a Sierra Club Committee working as a unit to achieve its goal."

As part of its award, the High Desert Committee will receive $1,000 from the Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund to further its work. The committee plans to use this money to promote protection of the Owyhee Canyon in southeastern Oregon, which is the current focus of its work.

The Sierra Club, which was founded in 1892 by John Muir, is the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. It currently has more than 700,000 members. For more information on the Oregon Chapter and its activities, call 503-238-0442 or visit the Chapter Web site at

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