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The Planet

by Laura Fauth

The Clean-Air Hokey Pokey | Clubbing in Puerto Rico | Highlands Highlights | Elizabeth May Honored | Scholarship Winners

The Clean-Air Hokey Pokey

When President Bush weakened clean-air protections and then traveled to Houston - home of Enron and one of America's smoggiest cities - to raise money, the Sierra Club was there to greet him with signs - and songs.

"It's incredibly ironic that the day after weakening the Clean Air Act, President Bush returned to the center of the energy industry to collect more money," says George Smith, air quality chair for the Lone Star Chapter.

Larry Freilich of the Texas field office helped round up volunteers for the last-minute rally. "In a city famous for bowling alone, more than 50 people came downtown on Friday during rush hour to tell Bush: 'We want clean air now,'" says Freilich.

On the drive from Austin, Freilich and Ayelet Hines, a Club conservation organizer, composed the song lyrics, sung to the tunes of such favorites as "The Brady Bunch," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and "The Hokey Pokey." (You put your money in/You take your favors out/You put your money in/And you throw our clean air out/If you go to big fundraisers for polluters that's the route/That's what it's all about!)

Clubbing in Puerto Rico

Sierra Club members in Puerto Rico, concerned about uncontrolled development that has contaminated their air and water and is destroying the island's few remaining natural areas, held the first meeting of the Sierra Club in Puerto Rico on June 26.

The aim of the meeting, which took place in San Juan, was to form an official local committee of the Sierra Club. Organizers hope that the group will eventually become a Sierra Club chapter.

The meeting was spearheaded by members of the Sierra Student Coalition in Puerto Rico, who in March visited Washington, D.C., to talk to Congress about protecting the Northwest Ecological Corridor. The corridor, which is currently threatened by proposals for 16 new hotels, was a central theme of the June meeting.

Highlands Highlights

Encompassing nearly 2 million acres in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, the Highlands region lies within two hours' travel of 20 million people and provides clean drinking water to more than 11 million.

On July 3, the Sierra Club, in partnership with The Highlands Coalition, Appalachian Mountain Club, Regional Plan Association, New York and New Jersey Trail Conference and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, released a "Discover the Wild Highlands" map promoting the region's parks and trail systems.

The map also highlights critical species in the region - from bald eagles to beavers - and the importance of protecting their diminishing habitats.

For more information about the Highlands, contact New Jersey Chapter Chair Tina Schvejda, at (973) 427-6863 or To receive a copy of the map or join the campaign, contact Emma McGregor-Mento, project director for the map, at (212) 791-9707 or or visit

Elizabeth May Honored

Mother, lawyer, grassroots environmentalist and executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, Elizabeth May was awarded the J.B. Harkin Conservation Award in May by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

She was honored for her work to protect "Cape Breton forests from pesticides, prairie rivers from dams, South Moresby and Main River forests from logging, and the Tatshenshini and Jim Campbell Barrens from mining" and for contributing to the establishment of five national parks and marine conservation areas.

In her "spare" time, May has written four books on environmental topics, helped start the Canadian Environmental Defense Fund and Women for a Healthy Planet and established Cultural Survival (Canada).

May is also the mother of a 10 year old, Victoria Cate.

Scholarship Winners

On May 3, the Sierra Club announced the 2002 recipients of the newly-created Colorado Plateau Scholarship Program. The winners, all high school seniors from rural Utah, will each receive a $2,000 scholarship for each year of a four-year college program, for a total of $8,000.

"Rural communities on the Colorado Plateau are experiencing a transition away from economies based on mining, ranching and logging," explains Lawson LeGate, senior Southwest regional representative of the Sierra Club. "We hope that these scholarships will stimulate the thinking of the young people who will carry the responsibility for the future of their communities."

This year's scholarship winners are Lynn Van Koch, Darice Dinsmore and Melissa Nielson of Moab; Laura Boshell of Panguitch; Jamie Hal Hamblin of Kanab; Heather Johnson of Hurricane; Katherine Mader of Toquerville; Kirk Player of Cleveland; Valentina Salazar Smith of Monument Valley; and Rachel Wilske of Green River.

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