In this issue of Sierra, you'll find a postcard that offers you a chance to help determine the fate of salmon in
the Pacific Northwest. We've been tucking such action cards into the magazine for three
years now, with ever larger responses each time. Some 9,000 of you mailed cards demanding
a strong global-warming agreement in Kyoto in 1997. About 16,000 weighed in against
pollution from factory farms in early 1999. And, a year ago, a whopping 20,000 rallied to
the defense of the Maine Woods, Sequoia National Forest, and the Great Bear Rainforest.
Speaking with one voice, 20,000
people have no trouble making themselves heard. The Great Bear cards had particularly
gratifying results. Bolstering a long-term campaign led by Rainforest Action Network, the
cards asked the world's largest home-improvement store, Home Depot, to help protect the
Great Bear Rainforest from logging by removing old-growth wood products from its shelves.
A few months later, Home Depot agreed to do just that by the end of 2002. The growing roar
from consumers was also heard by British Columbia's logging industry, which in the spring
of 1999 agreed to a short-term logging moratorium in 40 intact valleys in the Great Bear,
the most sweeping voluntary moratorium in British Columbia history. By year's end, Time
magazine's international edition declared the Great Bear Rainforest the number one
environmental topic of 1999.
It all goes to show that people who
are willing to work together can shake things up. Novelist and angler David James Duncan
defended fish once before in our pages with "The War for Norman's
River" in 1998, about a mine menacing the Big Blackfoot in Montana. This issue,
his focus is broaderthe Pacific Northwest, where four
anachronistic dams on the lower Snake River are leading to the extinction of the West's
inland salmon. In a story that begins on page 30, Duncan reviews the strong scientific
arguments for removal of these damsand passionately warns us of the biological,
cultural, and spiritual price we'll pay if we fail to act.
What happens next is up to us. The
federal government released an environmental impact statement on removing the Snake River
dams in late December and will be accepting public comments until the end of March.
"The timing is perfect," according to Bill Arthur of the Sierra Club's Northwest
office. So go ahead: Prove once again the power of the postcard.