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The Planet

By Jenny Coyle

Hunger Strike Proves Powerful

Sierra Club of Canada Executive Director Elizabeth May ended a hunger strike on May 18 after more than three weeks on a liquid-only diet.

The environmental leader held the strike to draw attention to the plight of residents living near toxic tar ponds in her hometown of Sydney, in Nova Scotia, and to demand that the government relocate those who wish to leave the area.

The government agreed to test residents and relocate those with chronic health risks.

"Victory isn't the right word, I think the right word is deliverance," she told the Canadian Broadcasting System.

The tar ponds contain a toxic sludge of arsenic, lead, cyanide, benzene and other chemicals from the area's days of steel production. Nearby communities have some of the country's highest rates of cancer, birth defects and miscarriages.

The Planet's March 1998 issue featured an article on the problems in Sydney when residents traveled to Fort Valley, Ga., for a "toxic exchange" with people in a similar predicament. Read the article.

New Officers Chosen by Board

The Sierra Club Board of Directors selected new officers at its May meeting in San Francisco.

Serving as Sierra Club president is Jennifer Ferenstein of Montana. Vice president is Charlie Ogle of Oregon, and Jan O'Connell of Michigan is secretary. Rounding out the list of officers are Nick Aumen of Florida as treasurer and Larry Fahn of California as fifth officer.

Big Scholarships for Small Town Students

Youth in WildernessGrowing Up, Heading Out: Participants in the Seven Teepees Youth Program and the Hidden Villa Environmental Education Program - both funded by Youth in Wilderness - head up Black Mountain in Los Altos, Calif.


Youngsters in Arizona and California will soon join the fun as Youth in Wilderness - a Sierra Club program - expands beyond California this summer. Focused on providing grants to link economically disadvantaged youth with outdoor learning opportunities, the program distributed $2 million last year. Learn more about Youth in Wilderness.

Kristopher Hohag, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, expects that his children, their children and their children will live in and love the beautiful Owens Valley - but first Hohag will get a degree in engineering from the University of California at Irvine.

Alison Clancy of Grass Valley, who will major in dance at New York University, started a personal campaign to save a special tree in her town.

These California students are among 21 selected to receive scholarships of $2,000 per year for four years through the Club's Sierra Nevada Scholarship program. Applicants must be residents of small Sierra Nevada communities - many of which are dependent on the timber industry - and in good academic standing. Each submits an essay on the future of his or her community.

Other California scholarship winners are Jacob Bonham, Eagleville; Virio Gaines, Mammoth Lakes; Haley Jones, Springville; Brandon Molesworth, Arnold; Peter Cormack, Lake Isabella; Julie Reimers, Cool; Erica Sato, Oroville; Miriam Stanton, Portola; and Leslie Walters, Forest Hill.

Nevada winners are Daisia Apodaca, Ely; Erin Dawn Burton, Battle Mountain; Casey Cavanaugh, Spring Creek; Molly Rose Conlin, Silver Springs; Ryan Dimit, Dayton; Izzy Gonzalez, Winnemuca; Kyla Hansen, Panaca; Ashley Marie Maughan, Panaca; Jennifer Lee Stovall, Wellington; and Oliver Francis Swafford, Virginia City.

Sadly, 1999 scholarship winner and Haverford University student Laura Wilcox was killed along with two other victims in a random shooting at a Nevada County office while she was filling in for vacationing workers in January. The $4,000 remaining in Wilcox's account was transferred to South Yuba River Citizens League, where a scholarship has been established in her memory.

Club Radio Show Teams Up

Watershed Radio, a production of the Sierra Club's Maryland Chapter, is now working in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute. The daily one-minute radio program about people, places, animals, plants and scientific research in the Chesapeake Bay watershed can now be heard or read on-line at Viewers can follow links to get more information on each topic.

Award Honors Wayburns' Work

In a May ceremony, The Wilderness Society presented Sierra Club Honorary President Edgar Wayburn and his wife Peggy, author and Sierra Club honorary vice president, with its highest honor, the Robert Marshall Award.

Part of the inscription on the plaque reads, "Your tireless advocacy and service - born of extraordinary generosity of heart and mind - are resources we treasure and will be beacons of light for generations to come."

The plaque will look nice next to the Presidential Medal of Freedom given to Ed Wayburn by Bill Clinton in 2000.

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