Organic farmers Chris and Christy Korrow got a nasty surprise in November 1998, when
poultry-processing giant Cagle's-Keystone plopped a facility housing more than 350,000
chickens on the opposite bank of Kentucky's Cumberland River.
Swarms of flies and noxious smells emanating from across the river prompted the
Korrows, members of the Sierra Club's Cumberland Chapter, to take action. They helped pass
a county ordinance strictly limiting the number of new chicken houses, and hosted a canoe
trip down the Cumberland last fall to gain support for similar regulations in other
"We wanted to get people out on the water so they make the connection between how
beautiful the river is and how factory farms are threatening it," says Aloma Dew, a
Club staffer who is helping organize tours of poultry and pig factories as part of a
national campaign to impose a moratorium on these huge polluting "farms." The
trips, dubbed "Tours de Stench," will begin in Kentucky this summer because, Dew
says, "that's when it's the stinkiest!"
For more information on factory farms
see the Sierra Club's Clean Water site.
Otay Gets the OK
A self-proclaimed "desert rat par excellence," Nick Ervin has been fighting
for public lands with the Sierra Club's San Diego Chapter since he moved to California 20
years ago. "What keeps me going is the beauty of the landscape and how it's so
threatened," Ervin says.
His hard work paid off in the Otay Mountains, 18,500 acres of chaparral, oak woodlands,
and coastal sage scrub along the U.S.
Mexico border, about 15 miles from the coast. "The Otay is a rare big chunk of
open space in an otherwise very crowded county," says Ervin, "but its rugged
mountain peaks and steep canyons have never gotten much attention."
Not, that is, until Ervin and other activists enlisted the Bureau of Land Management
and the Border Patrol to help draft a protection plan and convince Interior Secretary
Bruce Babbitt to push for wilderness legislation. The result was the Otay Mountain
Wilderness Act, which President Clinton signed into law in December.
Forest No Place for Fairway
Inyo National Forest is home to ancient bristlecone pines, pristine lakes, fragile
meadows, winding streams, and rugged peaks. What better place for a golf course? Or so the
Forest Service thought when it approved Snowcreek Golf Course's plan to expand onto 95
acres of the 1.9-million-acre forest, which runs along the eastern edge of the Sierra
The proposal outraged Toiyabe Chapter activist and avid climber Andy Selters. Citing
the Forest Service's own loophole-ridden prohibition against "urban-type
recreation" and concerns about sprawl and chemical contamination, the Toiyabe Chapter
filed suit to block the course. Last summer the agency bowed to the activists' pressure
and withdrew its proposal.
"This campaign wasn't just about a few acres here," Selters says. "We
were fighting a threat to the way the Forest Service manages all of its lands."
Maui's rural north shore is cherished as a haven from the hectic urban lifestyle, but
its Baldwin Beach recently became a battleground in the war on sprawl.
The Sierra Club's Maui Group came out swinging against a proposal to build a 30-home
luxury subdivision on the dunes fronting the beach. Group volunteers mobilized community
members to sign petitions, testify at Maui County Council meetings, and wave signs along
the Hana Highway during commute hours. In January, the Council Planning Commission
responded to the year-long battle and voted unanimously against corporate developer
A&B's planned subdivision.
"As a twenty-two-year resident of Maui, I've seen changes that I haven't always
been happy about," says Rob Parsons, a Maui Group volunteer. "But rather than
look for the next best place, I'm going to stay here and help shape the kind of community
in which I want to live."
Sierra Club volunteers from eastern Canada to the Florida Keys are tallying monarch
butterflies as they flutter past and counting horseshoe crabs spawning at high tide.
The two monitoring projects are a natural combination. "Monarchs and horseshoe
crabs are captivating species, and both are in trouble," says Club Atlantic Coast
ecoregion representative Mike D'Amico. "If we act, we can reverse this downward
trend." Volunteers will also be planting milkweed, which monarchs need to reproduce,
and trying to create spawning sanctuaries and "no-take" reserves for horseshoe
The crabs are a key element of the food chain, providing sustenance for juvenile
loggerhead sea turtles, many species of finfish, and migrating shorebirds. To get involved
with the monitoring projects, contact Mike D'Amico at email@example.com.
For more information, see the Sierra Club's Habitat website.
Victory at Sea
The Sierra Club has always been a part of Helen Lofgren's life. "When I was
growing up in Berkeley in the early 1950s, my Girl Scout troop leaders were Club members
who taught us about wilderness," Lofgren says.
Now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Lofgren has put her love for wild places to use as
an activist with the Eastern Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club. In December, the chapter's
newly formed conservation committee won its first campaign, securing a 12-year moratorium
on oil-and-gas exploration and extraction at Georges Bank, the rich offshore habitat
between Nova Scotia and Cape Cod. A dedicated cadre of activists lobbied government
officials and informed local residents about how oil-and-gas drilling could poison whales
and sea turtles, as well as the traditional fishing grounds. The Canadian moratorium now
matches that of the United States, where Georges Bank has been declared off-limits to
energy companies until at least 2012.