I was heartened to see Sierra publish an article about
the use of mountain bikes to explore and protect Grand StaircaseEscalante
National Monument ("Kaiparowits for Keeps," March/April). I have
often used a bike in Colorado to explore the boundaries of wilderness study
areas. It's much softer on the land than a four-wheel-drive vehicle and
enables me to cover more ground than hiking. Gary Sprung Crested Butte, Colorado
What is wrong with you people anyway? We revisited Moab
to see old friends. The place has been totally destroyed by bikers and
big-time money grubbers. Then we get home and the new issue of Sierra,
with the cover line "Bicycle Our Newest National Monument," is
on my dining-room table. I could shoot my left brain and write better eco-articles
than you print. Andrew R. Gantenbein Stevensville, Michigan
Do you discern any irony in a bicycle outing whose purpose
is to promote a wilderness designation for the area toured? Author Paul
Rauber's Momentum Method is to "take the downhill as fast as you dare,
and then pedal like hell as long as you can, stopping to pant and wheeze
and admire the scenery at the top." How disappointing to find Sierra
Club members who view a potential wilderness area as an amusement park.
And it seems they brought a motorized vehicle ("sag wagon") to
avoid lugging gear in bike baskets ("sparing us the torture of panniers").
Let us work toward making the Kaiparowits a designated wilderness, with
the consequent end of motorized-vehicle use and mountain biking in the
area. Bob Moss Bloomfield, New Jersey
Author Paul Rauber replies: No one is seeking wilderness
protection for the entire Kaiparowits Plateau, only for certain areas with
special qualities, prime among which is lack of maintained roads. The road
we were biking on is one of the major routes through the new monument.
Hikers would have no reason to walk along it. While our mode of transportation
may not be to your taste, it did result in a dozen new activists dedicated
to protecting the national monument.
MORE RIVERS TO LIBERATE
David Brower's powerful essay "Let the River Run
Through It" (March/ April) described the rationale behind the Sierra
Club's recent proposal to drain Lake Powell. But "broad visionary
strokes" must be tempered with reality. Glen Canyon Dam provides economic
benefits to a wide array of irrigation, electric power, and recreation
interests. These powerful interest groups will not easily agree to draining
the lake that supports them, and attempts to pay them for their lost income
would be incredibly expensive.
There are several current proposals for dam removal around
the country that stand a much better chance of success, such as those for
the Elwha River in Washington and the Kennebec River in Maine. These river-restoration
efforts are targeted at limited-purpose dams that have a well-defined adverse
impact. It will be much easier to find compromise with the opposition in
these cases, instead of fighting a national battle over Glen Canyon. David Reeder Hanover, New Hampshire
Editor Joan Hamilton replies: The
Sierra Club strongly supports removal of the Elwha and Kennebec dams, as
well as restoration of channelized rivers such as the Kissimmee in Florida.
Another one of our fond hopes: removal of O'Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite
National Park to restore the magnificent Hetch Hetchy Valley.
The Carpet and Rug Institute would like to provide several
points of fact in reference to "The Carpet Cure" ("Hearth
& Home," March/ April). The carpet industry has been amazingly
active in determining whether there is any impact on the indoor environment
by their products and has done extensive research to make those determinations.
Scientific studies have shown that new carpet is one of the lowest emitters
of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and that those emissions dissipate
within 48 to 72 hours of installation. A review of the data completed in
1994 by ENVIRON, an independent research company, states that "no
cancer or toxicity health risks were identified that would be considered
of public health concern." Following his in-depth study, Dr. Alan
Hedge, professor of environmental analysis at Cornell University, reported
that "concentrations of VOCs in carpet emissions . . . should not
create health problems for people."
The Carpet and Rug Institute's Indoor Air Quality Carpet
Testing Program is not simply "greenwashing." It has been very
successful by helping consumers identify tested, truly low-VOC products
and by encouraging carpet manufacturers to decrease the odor and emissions
from an already low-emitting product.
We encourage your readers to contact us for further information
about carpets and rugs at (800) 882-8846 and www.carpet-rug.com. Kathryn O. Wise Director of Public Relations Carpet and Rug Institute Dalton, Georgia
Editor Tracy Baxter replies:
Scientific studies have not conclusively linked carpeting to human illnesses
possibly because so little research has been conducted. To date no governmental
agency regulates indoor air pollution. In the absence of data on the individual
and synergistic effects of the 40-odd chemicals commonly found in carpets,
an industry-certification program (based on the analysis of only 4 chemicals
and total VOCs) can only be arbitrary and incomplete. Moreover, since at
least 86 percent of all carpets would have met the Carpet and Rug Institute's
emissions standards before the Green Tag program was instituted, manufacturers
really don't have much incentive to make carpets safer.
The Carpet and Rug Institute can trot out as many experts
as it chooses, but the wiggle room afforded by its blanket denials is shrinking.
Calling the DuPont Certified Stainmaster Carpet "unreasonably dangerous,"
a district court judge recently awarded a consumer $4.2 million in damages
for carpet-related respiratory illness.
"Habitat-Saving Habit," ("Food for Thought,"
March/April) leaves the faulty impression that shade-grown coffee plantations
are as good for birds as complex native forests are. They certainly are
more bird-friendly than fields of open-grown crops. But local tropical
birds and most tropical migrants need mosaics of land uses, including large,
unbroken tracts of complex forests. Coffee plantations cannot be "new
rainforests." Lawrence S. Hamilton Charlotte, Vermont
JUSTICE FOR ALL
While I am all in favor of environmental justice and even
in favor of increasing our Sierra Club efforts in this area, I must protest
the cheap shot at environmental enforcement in your March/April "Sierra
Club Bulletin," [which cited studies indicating that enforcement of
environmental regulations was biased against African-Americans, Latinos,
Native Americans, and the poor]. As an enforcer, I know that when we sue
air and water polluters, we strike a blow for the poor and people of color.
Why? Because steel mills, chemical plants, and their ilk tend to locate
in non-rich neighborhoods.
Sierra Club members should be congratulated for being
among a handful of organizations doing more for environmental justice than
everyone else. I don't see you criticizing the local bowling league or
the stamp collectors' club for doing so little for eco-justice, so why
not give us some recognition where due? Charlie Garlow Silver Spring, Maryland
Since the Sierra Club's purpose is to "practice and
promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources,"
I am surprised that you would print "The Use of Rivers" (March/April),
in which the author seems to delight in watching her companions "catch
a hundred fish and let all of them go." She then proceeds to try fishing
herself, and ends up with a steelhead "quivering in my hands"
and holds the fish next to her face for photos while the fish "fixes
me with one round, mortal eye."
There is a misconception that because fish have no voice,
they feel no pain. A hooked fish struggles out of fear and physical pain.
Once out of the water it begins to suffocate, its gills may collapse, and
its swim bladder may rupture. A fish that has been "played" may
be so stressed that it may die anyway once released. In its fight to survive
during catch-and-release there may be a build-up of lactic acid leaving
the fish stiff and sore with less chance of survival.
I am hoping that this letter will "educate and enlist
humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environments,"
as I understand the Sierra Club hopes to do. Gina LaFond Duluth, Minnesota
Our thanks to E. K. Teberg of Hemet, California-and dozens
of other careful readers-who pointed out that we misplaced Capitol Reef
National Park on the map on page 38 of our March/April issue. As Teberg
put it, "I am now a true believer in plate tectonics. Capitol Reef
is shifting faster than even California." The geographical upheavals
extended to our mislabeling of the canyon photo on page 3, which was taken
just outside the boundary of Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument.
A portion of our March/April cover photo shows land owned
by the University of California at its Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert
Research Center, which is a Mojave National Preserve inholding. The Sweeney
Center is open for research, education, and public tours, but not for general
AND THE ANSWERS ARE...
Still puzzling over the "Where in the Wild Are You?"
photos published in our March/April issue? Their mysterious locations can
now be revealed.
Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington
Mojave National Preserve, California
Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
(we also accepted Monomoy Island as a correct answer)
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
The winner, chosen in a random drawing of entries with
five correct answers, will receive a hiking and camping trip for two in
Bryce and Zion national parks. For the name of the winner (who has already
been notified), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Sierra. Many
thanks to our generous sponsor, travel outfitter Backroads.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.