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  September/October 1996 Features:
Newt's Game
A Chosen Few
Does He Deserve Your Vote?
Adios Amigos
Natural Allies
Ways & Means
Food for Thought
Hearth & Home
Way to Go
Sierra Club Bulletin
In Print
Last Words

Sierra Magazine


My blood pressure soared right off the charts after reading letters [denouncing "arrogant," "divisive," and "poetic" language in the endangered species issue] by Henry F. Olds, Jr., Jeff Opperman, and Ed Morley ("Letters," May/June).

Olds' version of "Strength in Humility" is a myth. As long as women and African Americans were nice and humble what did they get? Nothing! Would those in power one day have said, "You are so nice and humble, I'm going to allow you to vote and own property"? Dream on. It took activists being "unpleasantly arrogant." Those trashing our earth are about as humble as barracudas.

Opperman's concern over "divisive rhetoric" is as laughable as bland journalism is boring. The opposition calls environmentalists "lunatic fringe" and "tree huggers." What are we doing to deserve these names? Trying to save what is important to all, our earth.

Mr. Morley, I like the phrase "thinking like a mountain." It marks a time when conservationist Aldo Leopold saw the light, after seeing the light go out of a dying wolf's eyes. Susan Flader's excellent book, Thinking Like a Mountain, explains that the phrase characterizes "objective or ecological thinking; it should not be viewed as personification."

Glady Morgan, Camdenton, Missouri


It is outrageous to suggest that hunters are the saviors to whom we should look in order to protect the environment and biodiversity of wilderness and park areas ("Ways and Means," May/June). Hunters seek to manipulate environmental values to increase target species. Togetherness does not mean victory, it means abdication of principles and truncated achievement.

Charles Lyman, New York, New York

Thank you, Carl Pope, for your recognition of the common, fundamental values that sportsmen and environmentalists share. Properly regulated hunting and fishing are usually compatible with other wildlands uses. Even if sportsmen were denied access completely, however, most of them would much rather see the land preserved than converted to strip malls.

My one objection to your article was its tendency to talk about two separate groups. Some of the best "environmentalists" I have ever met are sportsmen. They recognize the difference between biologically based concern for a population and habitat and emotion-based concern for each and every individual animal in the population.

Bradley Mullens, Riverside, California

In the current climate in Washington and in statehouses across the nation, anglers must stand up, unite with a loud voice, and work toward ending the destruction of fish stocks, habitat, and upstream water sources for the profit of those who take without shame or hesitation. I will send a free white and green "I Fish and I Vote" bumper sticker to anyone who requests one.

Richard Reagan, Norcross Wildlife Foundation

Caller Box 611, P.O. Box 0414, New York, New York 10024

For more on hunters, anglers, and environmentalists, see "Natural Allies"


I am deeply offended to find, in "Food for Thought" (May/June), a backpacker's recipe for jerky stew.

Some real food for thought is that beef, and the cattle-ranching industry, are responsible for environmental destruction, including deforestation of tropical rainforests by slash-and-burn techniques, the long-term effects of which include reduction of the land to a moonscape after just five years of grazing on the thin topsoil. The cattle-ranching industry in our own country is contributing to the pollution of groundwater because of its waste and excrement, as well as using 90 percent of the grain we grow to feed livestock (you know how much pesticide that means?)--not to mention the amount of water it takes to raise a cow, the hormones beef is pumped full of, and the concerns for how these living animals are treated. Our government subsidizes this industry at the expense of the environment, and the health problems created by excess meat consumption are part of the tremendous costs of government-funded medical programs.

We don't all have to become strict vegetarians to save the planet from environmental catastrophe. But please don't compromise or contradict our beliefs by publishing such recipes.

Lily Ruderman, Davenport, California


In an article on mega-hog farms ("Priorities," May/June), you talked about "smaller, cleaner hog farms." This implies that if a hog farm is small it is clean. I have worked as a state inspector of animal-waste facilities in Missouri for 12 years and know that this is definitely not the case. Regardless of size, some will pollute. They pollute because they know no better, don't think they can afford waste management, don't view animal waste as a pollutant (after all, they wade around in it), or in some cases are just mean enough to intentionally pollute. Let us not lose sight of the fact that all confined animal feeding operations pose a potential threat to water quality.

George Parsons, Springfield, Missouri


Your coverage of the importance of wetlands (May/June) was wonderful. I especially appreciate your connection of this issue with the population crisis.

We must continue to raise questions about whether to pave over every last piece of earth to provide for increased population. Is our definition of economic growth serving us well? How could we have "growth" without raping the land? Do we have to face increased population? If not, how could we reach zero population growth in a compassionate and enlightened way?

These questions do not have easy answers, but they seem critical as we face continued dramatic losses of wetlands, the cradles of life.

Marcia Hanscom, Malibu, California

Call me nonplussed, as one who has watched the developing bedlam of the Annapolis-Washington- Baltimore triangle for the past 35 years, to see farms implicated in the decline of Chesapeake Bay over that period ("Holding the World at Bay," May/June). Farms occupy a vastly smaller portion of the Bay's watershed now than 50 years ago, and the Bay's problems are at least 90 percent owed to runaway exurban residential development and the highways and commercial developments that sustain it. I only wish we could return to that world of wall-to-wall farms relentlessly spreading their manure, and of Baltimore and Philadelphia as real cities with lots of people, smokestacks, and unregulated waste outflows. I guarantee that we would also have our Bay again.

Robert Simms, Troy, New York

I enjoyed your article on wetlands, but was dismayed that you missed a critical type that is highly endangered--tidal freshwater wetlands. These are low-lying areas adjacent to the upper reach of an estuary that are periodically inundated by low-salinity water from tidal exchange and river flows. They have greater biodiversity than salt marshes and prairie potholes, and unfortunately are ideal locations for development.

Greg Pasternack, Baltimore, Maryland


Reader John O'Driscoll of Quebec writes to inform us of two errors of hyperbole in recent issues. In "Where the Mountains Have No Name" (March/April), the claim that the Muskwa wilderness in northeastern British Columbia is "the biggest wilderness remaining in North America south of the 60th parallel" neglects the half-million-square-kilometer wilderness from Hudson Bay to the Atlantic between the 55th and 60th parallels, which is roughly six times bigger. O'Driscoll also disputes the contention in "Immersed in the Everglades" (May/June) that the park was "the first national park in the world established for its biological bounty rather than spectacular scenery." In fact, Point Pelee National Park, on the shore of Lake Erie, was established for its biological merit in 1918, 16 years before the Everglades. Sierra's apologies to eastern Canada.

Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail:

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