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The Planet
June 1999 Volume 6, Number 5


Bernie Zaleha, Boise, Idaho

Attorney Bernie Zaleha was fired from an environmental law firm in 1992 when his employers found out he was a Sierra Club activist. The firm's clients included polluters - Zaleha himself had represented some - and "they were nervous that I was saving the earth in my off time," he said. His case goes to trial next year. So Zaleha founded the Wildlands Interstate Legal Defense Fund, and now he makes his living suing the Forest Service. In an early case he defended Earth First! activists sued by a logging-road builder and learned about the movement to end commercial logging on federal lands. Zaleha, a Club member since 1977, chairs the national ECL campaign. "Even if some non-harmful logging could occur in theory, the Forest Service could never implement it in practice."

Don Janes, St. Paul, Minn.

There's no doubt Don Janes, the North Star (Minnesota) Chapter's forestry committee chair for most of the past 20 years, loves forests: He has planted 20,000 pine trees on his own 80-acre getaway, which used to be forested. "The land was cleared 100 years ago and farmed. I'm trying to bring it back to what it was," he said. For Janes, working on the ECL campaign is an "emotional thing. I've seen some of the few remnants of virgin forest in northern Minnesota, tall trees with eagles' nests in them. I've always regretted they didn't leave more." His background in science (he has a Ph.D. in chemistry) helps him recognize a bad argument.

Patti Laursen, Los Angeles, Calif.

She started listening to classical music when she was 3 years old, and not long after that, Patti Laursen's parents took her hiking. She went on to become one of the first female classical recording producers - and, more recently, chair of the Angeles Chapter's Ancient Forest Task Force and a member of the Sequoia Task Force. "I remember as a child standing under coastal redwoods and seeing shafts of light coming through the branches. There is something utterly spiritual and monumental about that, like listening to a Bach chorale. It's a gift from God." The goals of the ECL campaign may be seen by some as unattainable, she said, "but so was protecting the California desert, and the Sierra Club triumphed with the Desert Protection Act. Our national forests must be protected so future generations can have the same experience I had as a child - being awed by forests and having that be part of my life forever."

Jenny Coyle

Go on to the next page "Letter to the Editor"

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