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  April 2001 Features:
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Getting to the (Grass)Root of the Problem
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The Planet
Getting to the (Grass)Root of the Problem

by Sarah W. Heim-Jonson

Poll after poll shows that most Americans support environmental protection. But they don't necessarily think about it very much, or realize that their contribution and vigilance are critical.

Engaging these people and educating them about issues in their community is one of the cornerstones of the Environmental Public Education Campaign, now in its sixth and biggest year, with 40 sites.

Sierra Club chapters apply to the national office for one-year grants (which may be renewed) to fund an organizer who works locally on community issues, and coordinates efforts with other sites around the country and national campaigns.

According to Bob Bingaman, Club national field director, "The EPEC program has brought real grassroots organizing culture, resources and skills back into the Sierra Club."

Here are the sites selected for 2001 and their goals:

Alaska: Educate Alaska residents and visitors about the value of the Tongass National Forest.

Alabama: Phase out animal waste lagoons, make the Alabama Department of Environmental Management enforce existing regulations, encourage consumers to buy local farm produce and support family farms.

Arkansas: End commercial logging in the Ouachita and Ozark national forests.

Arizona: Ensure that the Bureau of Land Management develops plans to fully protect new national monuments from grazing, off-road vehicle use and other damaging activities.

California (Sacramento): See that the Sacramento Area Council of Governments adopts a metropolitan transportation plan that reduces auto-dependency and emphasizes public transportation.

California (San Clemente): Stop the construction of the Foothill-South toll road in south Orange County.

California (Statewide): Mobilize public support for protection of California's coast.

Colorado: Protect the Great Outdoors Colorado, a constitutional amendment that provides funding for the purchase of open space, from attacks by the governor.

Florida: Stop extension of the Suncoast Parkway, promote more mass transit projects.

Idaho: Continue protection of the Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands, seek protection for the Boulder-White Cloud Region.

Illinois: Convince the state to enforce the Clean Water Act, adopt effective anti-degradation rules and impose stricter limits on individual discharges into Illinois waters.

Indiana: Protect water quality from animal factories in Indiana. Train activists in water-quality monitoring.

Kentucky: Seek moratoria/ordinances for animal factories in several Kentucky counties, build statewide support for citizen water-quality monitoring, ensure that existing regulations are enforced, seek statewide moratorium on construction of large new facilities.

Louisiana: Identify special open spaces threatened by sprawl, create demand for green-space protection, ensure that regional growth plans include transit and protection for green space.

Michigan: Ensure that the state enforces regulations for animal factories.

Minnesota: Build support for better forest management, end commercial logging in the Chippewa and Superior national forests.

Missouri: Stop sprawling developments in Missouri River floodplain and jurisdictional wetlands in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

Mississippi: Build support for an animal factory moratorium and meaningful air and water quality regulations.

Montana: Protect Pryor Mountains from off-road vehicle use and other destructive activities by improving federal land management plans.

North Carolina: Increase funding for North Carolina's Million Acres Initiative, implement recommendations of the State Smart Growth Commission, build local smart-growth initiatives, raise awareness of benefits of smart growth.

North Dakota: Convince the state's congressional delegation to protect the last remaining portions of North Dakota's prairie grasslands from oil drilling and off-road vehicle use.

Nebraska: Urge the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to provide better oversight of animal factories, deny application permits for new ones and promote regulations that are friendlier to family farms.

New Hampshire/Sierra Student Coalition: Create support for solutions to sprawl in local communities, end commercial logging on national forests.

Nevada: Secure more funding for public transit, establish a regional transit system, implement a regional development plan that follows smart-growth principles.

New York (Albany): Convince EPA to dredge the Hudson River of harmful PCBs and make General Electric pay.

New York City and Lower Hudson: Prevent degradation of New York City's drinking water supply by stopping construction of the Croton filtration plant.

Ohio: Fight the proposed highway bridge over Little Miami River in Cincinnati, build support for light rail, promote smart-growth planning for the region.

Oklahoma: Build public support to lobby EPA and state environmental agencies to protect Oklahoma's water from animal factory contamination.

Oregon: Gain permanent protections for the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests and create permanent reserve areas for endangered species including the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet.

Rhode Island: Stop construction of a container port at Quonset/Davisville, protect Kent and Washington counties from poorly planned development.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Ecoregion: End commercial logging and identify restoration alternatives in the Southern Appalachian national forests.

South Carolina: Stop the Burroughs and Chapin company from developing a section of Richland County farmland that is prone to flooding.

South Dakota: Pressure the South Dakota Department of Environment to implement a total maximum daily load program to reduce water pollution.

Tennessee: End commercial logging in the Cherokee National Forest.

Texas: Oppose the Grand Parkway in Houston, press for public-transit alternatives, advocate for municipal and regional smart-growth policies.

Utah: Stop the construction of the Legacy Highway in Salt Lake City, seek to strengthen protection for Utah wilderness under the Citizens' Wilderness Proposal.

Vermont: Propose significant increase in wilderness-designated lands in the Green Mountain National Forest, promote forest management that emphasizes conservation.

Washington DC: Stop widening of the Capital Beltway and other regional highway projects, advocate for public transit alternatives.

Washington: Protect roadless areas in Washington's national forests.

Wisconsin: Seek permanent protection of a 115-mile long forest and open-space corridor through the Kettle Moraine and five southeastern counties.

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