In the Thick of It: “In the 1950s, the conservation movement at the national level was described by one observer as ‘small, divided and frequently uncertain.’” So begins In the Thick of It: My Life in the Sierra Club, by former Sierra Club Executive Director Mike McCloskey. Between the time McCloskey drew his first Club paycheck in 1960 and his retirement in 1999, the environmental movement came of age as a national force. “Of all the social movements that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century in the United States,” he writes, “the environmental movement is perhaps the most durable and well rooted.”
As the Club’s first field organizer in the early 1960s, McCloskey helped pave the way for the Wilderness Act of 1964. In 1966 he became the Club’s first conservation director, a platform he used to spur the designation of new national parks and wilderness areas, including North Cascades and Redwood National Parks. From 1969-85 and again in 1986-87 he served as executive director, helping launch the first Earth Day in 1970 and successfully lobbying for the enactment of more than one hundred environmental laws. As Club chairman in the 1990s he fought efforts to undercut EPA regulations and trade agreements that curtailed environmental
When McCloskey joined the Club staff, the organization was a California-oriented outdoor club with 16,000 members and 25 employees. By the time he retired, membership exceeded 700,000, supported by 300 staffers from coast to coast. In the Thick of It documents the great environmental battles that were waged during McCloskey’s 40 years as an environmental activist, and reveals the inner workings and politics of the Sierra Club during that time, including the ouster of his mentor, the charismatic but controversial David Brower. Available at www.islandpress.org, or at better bookstores near you.
Finding Common Ground: Northern Kentucky Water Sentinel Tim Guilfoile reports that the February 3-4 Clean Water Summit for Hunters & Anglers at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Louisville was “a roaring success.” More than 160 conservationists, sportsmen, scientists from state and national agencies, and members of the public attended, including six high schoolers from Teen Environmentalists in Lexington. The Sierra Club garnered 17 co-sponsors for the event, including not only likely suspects such as the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited, but also the League of Kentucky Sportsmen, the Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, whose motto is “Guaranteeing You a Place to Hunt and Fish.”
“It’s a diverse group and we’re going to disagree on some things, but there’s strength in diversity,” says Guilfoile. “I couldn’t be more pleased.” Larry Drake, a National Rifle Association member and president of the Derby City Fly Fishers, told the Louisville Courier-Journal: “The Sierra Club and I don’t get along on some things, but I think we will understand each other better by being here. I was talking to one of the people from the Sierra Club, and she said if we lined up our views side by side, there would be more things we agree on than things we don’t agree on. She’s right.”
The keynote address was delivered by Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters. Longtime Cumberland Chapter leader Hank Graddy moderated, and among the presenters was former Sierra Club Midwest staffer Eric Uram, founder of Mercury Free Wisconsin. Workshops included sessions on non-point source pollution, local and state action to reduce mercury pollution, and what sporting clubs can do to improve fish and wildlife habitat. “We need to bring more hunters and fishermen into the fold,” Chickasaw Group (Tennessee) conservation chair Jim Baker told the Courier-Journal. “Sportsmen are out there. They see what’s going on. The more eyes you have in the field, the better. There’s a lot of overlap of interests between traditional sporting groups and the non-consumptive environmental crowd.”
Board Election Ahead—Don’t Forget to Vote: The annual election for the Sierra Club’s Board of
Directors is now underway. In March, all members will receive a national Sierra Club ballot in the mail,
including information on the candidates. Ballots must be cast by noon EDT on Monday, April 24, 2006.
Additional information can be found at the Club's election Web site: sierraclub.org/bod/2006election.
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