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The Planet
June 1999 Volume 6, Number 5

Earth Day Splashes

by Sarah Clusen

As grim skies and 40-degree weather heralded the Colorado River float trip, local staffer Tina Arapkiles said, "Every year it storms on Earth Day in Colorado. I move we change the date to late May."

In the meantime, Earth Day is still April 22 and Sierra Club activists from coast to coast marked the occasion by celebrating America's wild heritage.

A centerpiece of those events was the release of "SPARE America's Wildlands," a national report featuring "neighborhood wild places and open space" for every state. Activists also collected signatures on tear-off double-postcards, one to President Clinton, another to a local leader, advocating greater wildlands protection. The Club did outreach events in more than three dozen locations, as part of our Environmental Public Education Campaign (EPEC). In the Seattle area, 170 volunteers armed with thousands of postcards saturated the suburbs. The notorious "ironing board brigades" set up shop at grocery stores, nurseries, and REI stores to gather signatures on cards to President Clinton and Gov. Gary Locke (D). One volunteer finished his afternoon shift just in time to rush off for a red-eye flight to New York City where his daughter is checking out colleges. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) stopped by one site to see how things were going.

In Baton Rouge, Delta Chapter activists invited the public to "Earth Day at Alligator Bayou." Their coloring wall - a drawing of a Louisiana swamp - attracted artists young and old to "preserve, protect, and enjoy the special places that color our lives." Festivities also included canoe trips, birding hikes and dancing.

In Las Vegas, those attending a screening of the "Wilderness - Nevada's Hidden Treasure" slide show were treated to a big piece of John Muir's birthday cake. (He was born on April 21, 1838.)

Many of the events focused on how sprawl threatens the natural areas outside cities. Following on the heels of successful "Tour de Sprawl" events the past several years, Club activists in the Washington, D.C., area invited members of the press on a converted crabbing boat for a "Tour de Splash" down the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. In Livermore, Calif., volunteers hosted a rally to protest unplanned growth and sang the 1964 Malvina Reynolds hit "Little Boxes" describing suburban subdivisions as ". . .all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same."

Sierra Club President Chuck McGrady helped Illinois activists explain the importance of preserving the Illinois River watershed in a successful press event the weekend before Earth Day. McGrady also traveled to Virginia where activists rallied against a proposed reservoir that would threaten the Mattaponi Indian reservation.

The North Star Chapter released a report showing dangerously high timber harvest levels in Minnesota forests. In the St. Cloud Times, Wayne Brandt of the Minnesota Forest Industries and Minnesota Timber Producers Association blasted the Sierra Club as "morally bankrupt to put out this kind of information and have it masquerade as facts."

To which Minnesota EPEC organizer Jill Walker responded, "Hello, Wayne? It's public data we used, not our own."

Go on to the first article, "Dombeck on Record".

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