Executive Committee member, Niagara Group
A semi-retired Presbyterian minister, Charles Lamb splits his time between
his western New York flock and serving on the Niagara Group executive committee.
He gained his love of nature growing up in the shadows of the Great Smokies
of Tennessee. But it wasn’t until his ministry brought him to Youngstown,
a small town next to Niagara Falls, and he learned of the hundreds of tons of
PCB-laden dirt slated to be landfilled nearby, that he became a grassroots activist. "What’s
truly shocking," he says, "is that the proposed dump site is literally
down the road from a large K-12 school with 1,200 students."
Lamb helped pull together alarmed residents into a local group that challenged
the PCB importation. They hope to hear soon on their latest legal appeal.
His group also recently co-sponsored a lecture by Love Canal activist Lois
Lamb, who edits the group newsletter, also works on population stabilization. "As
a pastor I think I am in line with the thinking of most religions when I say
that we are given the ability, and the obligation, to make sensible choices
under God. If one really cares about protecting our air, water, and land, as
the wildlife, slowing population growth is essential."
Recently, Lamb invited Annette Souder, director of the national Sierra Club
Global Population and the Environment Program, to his religious studies class
University, and set up a meeting between her and his local clergy group. "Religion
and the environment—it’s a potent coalition," he says.
— Jim Hufnagel
Global population and the environment committee
Madelyn Pyeatt—Bellingham, Washington
Inner City Outings Pioneer
In September, Madelyn Pyeatt became the first recipient of a new national
Sierra Club award honoring Club leaders for outstanding service to youth—the
Madelyn Pyeatt Award.
A longtime resident of Oakland, California, Pyeatt was one of the earliest
proponents of the concept of "inner city outings." In the early 1970s, she thought
it would be wonderful to provide outdoor opportunities to inner-city high school
children who wouldn’t otherwise experience them. So Pyeatt began
the Oakland Tech TRAILS club, the longest-running Inner City Outings (ICO)
in the country.
There were a couple other ICO groups at Oakland Tech at the time," she recalls, "but
they weren’t serving the population I wanted to serve. I originally started
TRAILS (Tech’s Red American Indian League) to fulfill a request from
Native American kids at Tech.
ICO was able to provide equipment, transportation, insurance, and volunteers
who were tree huggers and river dancers," she says. "No other
organization could reach these inner city minority students with those
Pyeatt’s philosophy about ICO goes beyond the basic credo of providing
outdoor experiences for city kids—she feels it’s important
to develop leadership qualities in her participants, using the outing experience
springboard. And each year, several of her students are encouraged to become
We absolutely have to reach inner-city and minority people if we are ever to
win any environmental battles in this country," she says.
— Tom Valtin and David Crabb
Maggie Wade—Waldo, Alabama
Alabama Chapter Vice Chair
Maggie Wade lives in an old bootlegger’s cabin that she refurbished, added
onto, and made into a comfortable, woodsy home on the banks of Talladega Creek
in northeastern Alabama. Her "back yard," where she frequently
hikes, is the Talladega National Forest, where the southern Appalachians
A teacher of deaf children by day at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf
and Blind, Wade is also affiliated with the Camp McDowell Environmental
Ala., where she has been helping to coordinate an environmental camp
for deaf children for nine years. She is also working in her spare time
way the state’s environmental agency (ADEM) is run. "I’m the
Sierra Club rep on the ADEM Reform Coalition," she explains, "and we’ve
developed a ‘Blueprint for ADEM Reform.’ I’m on a planning
committee the state developed to get input from stakeholders, so we’ve
managed to get most of our issues presented to the state."
Wade recently spearheaded a successful effort to save an historic bridge
that spans Talladega Creek near her home, and turn an abandoned stretch of
into a walking and bicycle path.
The old stretch of road is about a mile long, it crosses the river, and it winds
through a very pretty area. It makes a nice pedestrian and bicycle track, and
people walk their dogs and kids ride their bikes there. The demolition contract
was for about $30,000, so not only could we get a park out of it, we could save
money, too—the savings can be used for flowers along the new road
or any number of things!"
— Tom Valtin
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