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The Planet

The Planet
November 1998 Volume 5, Number 9

Club Beat

by John Byrne Barry

Brand-name Hurricanes

What if we named tropical storms and hurricanes after polluting corporations like Exxon, GM and Ford?

That's what members of the Green Party proposed to the World Meteorological Institute at a recent meeting of the European Parliament.

After all, they reasoned, not only are these corporations the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they deny that fossil-fuel emissions are contributing to global warming and other climatic changes.

Just imagine the newspaper headlines: "Exxon Kills 20 in Miami."

Parliament rejected the proposal.

Phony Farmers

When the National Pork Producers Council led an agribusiness lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill in September, they called it "Ag for Fast Track." They were pushing for fast-track trade legislation ostensibly to boost exports and farm prices. (Those mammoth hog and chicken factories are cranking out more meat than Americans can consume.)

But according to Club Trade Specialist Dan Seligman, who was working to stop the free-trade hysteria, some of these "Ag for Fast Track" folks haven't spent much time on the farm lately.

"One 'Agster' I collared - they were easy to spot with their tell-tale 'Ag for Fast Track' buttons - told me he worked for the dairy firm Hewlett-Packard. Another I recognized as a lobbyist for the chemical manufacturers."

Mike and Jackie Sitting in a Tree

The Utah governor was not amused, says Club organizer Marc Heileson, but his chief of staff was. To celebrate the birth of the third successful pair of bald eaglets hatched in the nest at the Great Salt Lake, Heileson and Tim Funk of Hawkwatch International dedicated the nest to Gov. Mike Leavitt. They named the two babies Mike and Jackie after Utah's first couple. It was an opportunity to call attention to the environmental community's opposition to the proposed Legacy Highway, which would be constructed less than a mile from the nest.

The photo, taken by well-known wildlife photographer (and Club volunteer) Gary Crandall, was matted and framed, then presented to the governor's office. (The governor was out of town, but the photo made its way to the chief of staff's office, where it's now hanging on the wall.)

The Great Salt Lake is winter home to an estimated 500 bald eagles, but there are few successful nesting sites. This is the only known nest in northern Utah.

From a Forest to a Park

"Westerners have long bragged that the only lands worth saving are west of the Mississippi," says New Hampshire Chapter organizer David Ellenberger. "Not any more." Ellenberger was referring to the Sept. 9 launch, in Concord, N.H., of the Sierra Club and Conservation Action Project's campaign to change New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest into a national park. This campaign is one of three major wildlands protection movements in the Northeast - there's also the battle for a Maine Woods National Park and, in New York, the fight to gain wilderness status for a huge area within the Adirondacks.

The White Mountains welcome more than 7 million visitors every year, making it the Northeast's most visited national forest. The proposed park boasts 48 4,000-foot peaks, including Mount Washington, and the headwaters of four of New England's most important rivers - the Saco, Merrimack, Androscoggin and Connecticut.

"National parks are managed primarily for the preservation of the natural values," says Ellenberger. "But the Forest Service allows clearcutting, road construction and development in national forests."

Transferring the White Mountain National Forest to the National Park Service requires an act of Congress. No legislation has yet been introduced and all four members of the New Hampshire delegation to Congress are opposed to the idea.

"So we're taking our case to the public," says Ellenberger. "They're not as likely to be influenced by the timber industry as are our elected officials. We give ourselves five years."

There's precedent for such a change. Rocky Mountain, North Cascades and King's Canyon national parks were national forests before becoming parks.
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