A few years ago, sports-shoe
manufacturer Nike created a writing contest "to acknowledge journalists and
organizations that advocate responsible behavior among outdoor enthusiasts." To
many outdoor publications, the idea of combining stories about recreational
activities with environmental awareness was somewhat novel. To Sierra, of course,
it's familiar territory. So we were flattered but not altogether surprised when
we won one of these "Earthwrite" awards for a story about hunters and
conservationists collaborating to protect wildlands ("Natural Allies," by Ted
Williams, September/October 1996).
The Sierra Club's mission statement succinctly spells out the organization's
raison d'être: "to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth."
Without embracing all three of these activities, the magazine would be a
different animal. Devoted simply to exploration, we could get mired in reporting
egotistical exploits-what New York Times Magazine staff writer John Tierney calls
"explornography." If we were a mainstream travel mag, breezy accounts of "trophy"
vacations might follow one after another. It's the Sierra Club's commitment to
protect natural places that keeps our feet on the ground. And it makes for
engaging and compelling reading.
That's because writers can dig deep when they're in it for more than a thrill
ride. In this, Sierra's fourth annual travel issue, Paul Rauber heads to Russia's
Far East to see what makes a pair of grizzly-bear researchers tick, and discovers
more than he expected about human/bear relationships. On the remote British
Columbia coast, B. J. Bergman scrambles to keep pace with Canadian and U.S.
environmentalists working to get the word out about the world's largest intact
temperate rainforest. And Ted Williams returns to our pages, this time tramping
Maine's North Woods, visiting what, with your help, could someday be a new
So sit back and explore and enjoy these places with us-but keep in mind that we
also hope to motivate you to help save them.