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The Planet

November 1997, volume 4, number 9

Letting the Animals Speak for Themselves:
In Utah, the Club enlisted this "spokeseagle"
to stand up for endangered species and their habitat.

Talk for the Animals

by Mary-Beth Baptista

By foot, by sky and by airwaves, environmentalists across the country spent the last weekend of September driving home the importance of habitat protection in saving endangered species from extinction.

Themes like "Wildlife Need Wild Places," "Save Our Open Spaces" and "Extinct Is Forever" were heard at the Sierra Club Environmental Public Education Campaign's fall activities.

Environmentalists in over 20 cities released "Wildlife Need Wild Places," a joint report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Sierra Club, and distributed literature and collected action postcards calling on local officials to protect critical habitat. One group flew a banner over a football game to educate its community on the importance of habitat protection.

"In my 20 years of watching the Maui scene, I have never seen such a strong coalition of environmental groups in such a public setting, or so many people eager to be informed," said Lucienne De Naie, organizer of the Maui Group's booth at the Maui County Fair. The group focused on threats to coral reefs and marine life posed by the proposed expansion of Maui's Ma-alaea Harbor. Members of California's San Gorgonio Chapter strolled with hundreds of dogs and their owners at the Riverside Humane Society's 6th Annual " Walk With the Animals." The Club's center-stage booth featured handouts on endangered species and the threats of habitat loss. Volunteers collected more than 200 signatures on postcards and gave away hundreds more for people to send later. "You help us save the places, and I'll put the wildlife back into the habitat," said a wildlife biologist to Terry Wold, San Gorgonio EPEC organizer.

In Utah, the chapter enlisted the help of a 5-foot-8-inch bald eagle to get its message across at a joint U.S.PIRG-Sierra Club news conference. "Protecting habitat is the key to the local recovery of the bald eagle, about 500 of which winter along the shores of the Great Salt Lake," said the "spokeseagle" (whose voice sounded a lot like that of Regional Representative Lawson LeGate). Close to 50 churches affiliated with Michigan Ecumenical Consultation on Christianity and Ecology teamed up with local Club activists and other groups within the religious community and distributed more than 10,000 "Wildlife Need Wild Places" postcards.

"The success of this partnership is due to the hard work of Club activists; they coordinated outreach at their own places of worship -- Catholic, Unitarian, Christian Reformed, Buddhist and Presbyterian -- and organized volunteers to distribute cards at churches throughout the community," said Alison Horton, Michigan EPEC organizer.

Check out the text of the U.S. PIRG-Sierra Club report "Wildlife Need Wild Places" at It examines the national, regional and state status of native species and habitat and the causes of their disappearance.

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