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The Planet

Club Beat

Dacotah Chapter Fights to Protect Public Lands

Until recently, both North and South Dakota were served by the Dacotah Chapter, the last to include Sierra Club members from more than one state. In May, the Club's Board of Directors decided to split the chapter in two. The reorganization has allowed North Dakotans - who kept the name "Dacotah" - to shore up their time and resources to fight legislation that puts the state's remaining public lands in jeopardy.

The War on the Environment has, for now, eclipsed the wilderness proposal "Badlands on the Brink" as the Dacotah Chapter's top priority. Written by the Sierra Club and 15 other groups in an effort to save the state's 1.1 million acres of national grasslands from further oil-and-gas development, "Badlands" proposes wilderness designation for 13 areas totaling 180,000 acres.

"Because of the anti-wilderness leanings of the current Congress, the proposal is no closer to being enacted," says Kirk Koepsel, associate representative in the Northern Plains field office. "But the Dacotah Chapter has still accomplished a tremendous amount toward protecting the state's last wildlands. It is one of the most professional, politically savvy groups of Sierra Club members I've worked with."

With only 350 members, the Dacotah Chapter relies on the strength-in-numbers that comes from coalition-building. Hunters and anglers are natural partners for the Sierra Club in this state, which has more wildlife refuges than any other. "The 'hook-and-bullet' folks are very important to our success," says Chapter Chair Todd Herreid, a North Dakota native who is himself an avid outdoorsman and hunter. "We often battle a perception that the Sierra Club is an anti- hunting group. If that were true, I probably wouldn't be a member."

The chapter recently cooperated with a local hunting group, the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Club, on a series of radio spots alerting North Dakotans to threats in a grazing bill introduced by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and approved in July by the Senate Energy Committee. The bill, which affects 1.2 million acres of land in North Dakota, would create a new federal agency to jointly manage national grasslands with grazing interests. "It's probably one of the worst-thought-out pieces of legislation I've ever seen," said Herreid. "Livestock operators should not be given power while every other user group is denied a role." Unlike national parks, which do not allow exploitation of natural resources, national grasslands operate under a multiple-use mandate that caters to grazing and oil interests. A bill introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) would drop all pretense of multiple-use management and make grazing the dominant activity on the state's public lands. The Dacotah Chapter and its allies responded this summer by producing a series of television commercials about the bill.

Thanks to the chapter's persistent press work, several local newspapers have printed editorials detailing the threats to North Dakota's public lands posed by the current Congress. Chapter members also recently stymied plans to construct a bridge over the Little Missouri River, which the Club has proposed for federal wild-and-scenic designation. And by working directly with private landowners and federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, activists are negotiating the transfer of some mineral rights on the grasslands - which are often leased to oil-and-gas developers - from private hands into the public domain. What makes activists successful in this sparsely populated, rural state is that they understand what the average North Dakotan wants, say Club leaders. "Up here, we can't just fight all natural resource exploitation on principle because it's so much a part of people's lives," says Dexter Perkins, a Grand Forks resident and the Agassiz Basin Group chair. "We don't tend to compromise so much as pick our issues carefully." What you can do: Urge your members of Congress to (1) support more stringent protection for national grasslands and (2) push for the designation of national grassland wilderness areas.

For more information: Contact Todd Herreid at (701) 774-8904.

Fundraising Road Show

Members of Texas' Lone Star Chapter gathered in Houston recently to participate in the "Fundraising Roadshow," a workshop put on by Club volunteers from across the country to help chapters and groups improve their fundraising skills. The message from trainer Cathy Liu Scott was simple: Fundraising is closely linked to conservation programs. If you haven't carefully planned your conservation goals, you can't begin raising money. Scott said all good fundraising campaigns require three elements: a specific problem, a Sierra Club solution to that problem, and ways people can help. The workshop gave representatives from five groups in Texas a chance to discuss their conservation priorities and formulate plans to fund them. Drusha Mayhue, chair of the Houston Group, says the workshop made her realize that fundraising within the Sierra Club should be a team effort. "Whether you are the chief fundraiser heading up a campaign or the conservation person immersed in the issues, you must share the work of fundraising," says Mayhue. As a result of the Fundraising Roadshow, the Houston Group Executive Committee had its Conservation Chair make a presentation on the Katy Prairie Campaign, which aims to preserve a sustainable portion of that prairie west of Houston. "We decided to repeat this kind of exercise regularly so that all members have a clear understanding of the issues," Mayhue says. "We also learned to communicate more about fundraising objectives. We should all be working on the same goals rather than pursuing such diverse projects that our efforts become diluted - and possibly ineffective - because of lack of support from each other."

To bring the "Fundraising Roadshow" to your chapter, contact Larry Sherwood, 2001 Mesa Dr., Boulder, CO 80304; (303)440-8985; e-mail:

-Ellen Mayou

Living Lightly on the Earth

San Francisco Chapter volunteer Frank Orem is the Sierra Club's information coordinator for the non-profit organization Global Action Plan for the Earth (GAP), which promotes less wasteful, more sustainable lifestyle practices. During the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, says Orem, scientists told Americans that unless they curbed their rate of consumption within the next decade, the quality of life for future generations worldwide would be seriously jeopardized. Currently, the United States consumes more than one-third of the Earth's resources but makes up only 5 percent of the world's population.

In 1993, GAP launched the "Household EcoTeam Program," a grassroots endeavor designed to teach participants the fundamentals of sustainable living - reducing consumption and waste levels to maintain the future integrity of our natural resources. "The program is low-key, built with small, attainable steps in the areas of waste and consumption, and it doesn't require a huge investment of time or money," says Orem. David Gershon, founder and president of GAP, says that more than 3,000 U.S. households have participated in the six- month program so far. On average, each household has reduced garbage by 42 percent, used 25 percent less water, used 16 percent less fuel for transportation, cut 16 percent of their carbon dioxide output, and saved approximately $400 per year.

Orem encourages Club members to participate in the program. He hopes that the Club's involvement will spur widespread interest in the "EcoTeam" approach. "GAP is a great vehicle for Club members to share our passion for stewardship in a way that results in cooperative change," he says. "By bending our own behavior toward sustainable living, we can help others do the same."

To take action: Contact Frank Orem at (510) 671-2958 or GAP at (914) 679-4830.

Dj Vu All Over Again

"No means no!" was the rally cry of 350 Arizonans who gathered at a congressional hearing June 3 to protest a "takings" bill that is nearly identical to one voters rejected last November. "Arizonans know this is not an issue between those who support private property and those who don't," said Joni Bosh, a longtime leader in the Sierra Club's fight against takings legislation. "It's a camouflaged fight over money - over who pays and who benefits." Bosh and eight other witnesses testified at the hearing against Arizona Republican Rep. John Shadegg's plan to re- introduce takings legislation similar to last year's Proposition 300, which lost by a 60 to 40 percent margin.

Go Climb a Rock!

The Sierra Club's insurance plan now covers rock-climbing and mountaineering trips organized by chapters and groups, but so far only four California chapters have taken advantage of the plan. Unless there is more participation, the Board of Directors may not renew the insurance. Some requirements and restrictions apply.

For more information: Contact Cathy Benton in the Sierra Club Outing Department at (415) 977-5652.

Hot off the Press!

The 1995 Leader List, the most comprehensive listing of Sierra Club leaders at the national, regional, chapter and group levels, is now available. This critical tool, which includes names, addresses and leadership categories, is intended to facilitate communication and information-sharing among Club leaders and activists. It's a 3-hole punched, 8 1/2" x 11" 145-page packet.

To order: Send a check for $12 payable to Sierra Club, along with your name, address and phone number(s) to: Office of Volunteer and Activist Services, Sierra Club, 730 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441, Attn: Eric Wilson.

For more information: Call Eric Wilson at (415) 977-5576.

Nominating Committee

The 1995-96 Nominating Committee for Sierra Club elections was confirmed by the Board's Executive Committee in May. The one-year term, continuing members are Jim Curtis, Vivian Newman and Ed Wayburn. New appointees to the two-year term are Judy Anderson, Doris Cellarius, Pat Frock and Chuck McGrady (chair). Recommendations for candidates for the Board of Directors should go to members of this committee.

Awards Bash in September

The Sierra Club's annual awards banquet will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, 1995, at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. The event kicks off with a 6 p.m. reception; the banquet begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 each.

For more information: Contact Sandy Scales at (415) 977-5519.

Is there an accomplishment, a grassroots victory or some local Club news you want to put up in lights? Shout it from the rooftops, put it in your chapter newsletter -- and send it to The Planet! The ClubBeat section is dedicated to your stories, triumphs, lessons learned, issue updates and grassroots tips. Send items to The Planet, 85 Second St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441, or via e-mail at:

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