Utah Wilderness Fever - It's Catching
From Salt Lake City to Nebraska, Utah wilderness proponents
are getting the word out.
This fall in Salt Lake City, four natural-gas-powered city
buses will provide a roving billboard exhorting Utah
residents (and their congressional representatives) to help
protect 5.7 million acres of Utah wilderness. "Hundreds of
thousands of people will see our message," says conservation
assistant Greg Underwood (at right being interviewed),
"including (Republican Sen.) Bob Bennett - unless he drives
blindfolded to his office every day."
Meanwhile, Sierra Club Southwest Regional Representative
Lawson LeGate recently traveled from Utah across the
nation's heartland in the company of his two children. One
morning, they stopped at a cafe in the small town of Wymore
in southeastern Nebraska, where LeGate's great-grandfather
"We were the first customers of the day," he says. "While we
waited for our breakfast, the regular clientele began to
trickle in. It appeared that none of them were under the age
of 65. Some of the men wore overalls and billed caps and, in
appearance, at least, conveyed the expected impression of
stalwart retired farmers. We immediately became the object
of their curiosity."
Two gentlemen took it upon themselves to start up a
"Where ya from?" asked one.
"Utah," replied LeGate.
One of the interrogators, tapping into a recent memory,
said, "It seems to me that southeastern Utah is where Orrin
Hatch wants to develop all that land. I've never been there,
but I've seen pictures, and it's very beautiful."
They continued the conversation and asked LeGate what he did
for a living. "I considered a moment before I answered,
wondering how my response would be received by these salt-of-
the-earth farmers. Then I told them I work for the Sierra
"Is that so?" said the farmer. "Well I back you on what
you're trying to do. Too many people treat the resources of
this country like they'll last forever. I worry about the
future if we go on like this." "This simple declaration,"
says LeGate, "told me more than I expected to learn on my
vacation: that our message is reaching far and wide and
people are receptive to it."
Note: At press time, the Clinton administration was
considering the possiblity of creating a 1.8 million-acre
Canyon of the Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
The Home Lobbying Network
by Joan Jones Holtz
The Sierra Club's 600,000-plus membership shows the strength
of the environmental movement. However, most of our members
neither attend meetings nor are otherwise active in the
Club. This represents an untapped reservoir of support for
environmental projects. We at Sierra Club California created
the Home Lobbying Network with our state members in mind; it
provides an easy way to participate in meaningful activism.
The strategy is simple. Network organizers developed a
participation form that is now included in California
Chapter newsletters. When the completed form is returned,
names are entered into a database and indexed according to
congressional and state legislative districts.
During legislative alerts our lobbying staff has immediate
access to all network participants of any targeted swing-
vote legislator. When notified, they flood their elected
official's office with messages; often, the targeted
legislator can be persuaded to cast a pro-environmental
We're enthusiastic about our success and believe that
activating the network was instrumental in staving off
efforts to weaken the California Environmental Quality Act,
to destroy the California Endangered Species Act and to
expose a well-disguised effort to undermine the federal Safe
Drinking Water Act.
Besides the obvious advantage of empowering more of our
members to participate, we believe that encouraging this
type of involvement will help expand Sierra Club membership.
Most people join the Sierra Club because they want to be
connected to the environmental movement. They often drop out
because they fail to make that connection. To join the Home
Lobbying Network, or to start one of your own, contact Joan
Jones Holtz at (818) 443-0706.
On the Right Track in Michigan
When President Clinton's train to the Democratic convention
rolled into Michigan, the Sierra Club was at every train
stop. In Wyandotte, one of our April doorhanger organizers
shook his hand and left him with a "Protect Our Environment"
button for his lapel.
When Clinton rolled into Holly, Mike Keeler and a crew of
sign-waving Sierra Club members were there to work the
crowd. Their signs -"Sierra Club: 610,000 Strong" and "We
Organize and We Vote" - caught Clinton's eye. "Good to see
you, Sierra Club," said Clinton, "Thanks for all your help
When Clinton got to Kalamazoo the next day for his
environmental speech on a picturesque bend in the Kalamazoo
River (which also happens to be a Superfund site), Club
volunteers and chapter staff were already there with signs
reading:"I drink water - and I vote."
The week wrapped up with an editorial in the Detroit paper,
which stated, "On environmental quality, it's clear that few
Americans will tolerate going backwards," clearly reflecting
an editorial meeting that Club Executive Director Carl Pope
had with the paper during the previous week.
Learning About Lead
Lead poisoning is most often found in low-income
communities. However, as the Sierra Club video "Kids at
Risk" points out, no community in Los Angeles County is
immune; childhood lead poisoning is a major problem
throughout Southern California.
Conceived and carried out by Brent Scott, associate regional
representative in the Calif./Nev./Hawaii field office, the
30-minute video is a Sierra Club environmental justice
project funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Angeles Chapter.
The Los Angeles County Health Department translated both the
video and pamphlet into Spanish. Club volunteer and graphic
artist, Louis Quirarte, designed the pamphlet. Six
University of Southern California interns assisted with
final production and California Assemblywoman Martha Escutia
of Los Angeles helped narrate the video and secure free
"What we have here isn't a $24,000 project, but a $50,000
project when we consider the in-kind services the Club
received," said Scott. "And from the word go, community
response has been tremendous." The video and pamphlet will
be distributed by the EPA.
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