Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?
Sierra Main
In This Section

  November/December 2001 Issue
Just Add Water
Fishing for Life
The Mighty Mississippi
Man About Towns
Inside Sierra
Ways & Means
Lay of the Land
Good Going
The Hidden Life
The Sierra Club Bulletin
Home Front
Mixed Media
Back Issues
Submission Guidelines
Advertising Guidelines
Contact Us

Sierra Magazine

Printer-friendly format
click here to tell a friend


Roadless reversal | Junkie Marmots | CAFE standards | Corporate excess | Bold Strokes | China leads climate change | Boise Cascade | Power Ties | Updates

Boise Cascade Bites Back

Annoy a dinosaur and it can turn on you. That's what San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network learned after a year of targeting Boise Cascade for "predatory logging practices" in endangered and old-growth forests around the world. Through its Web site (, leaflets, and creative protests (sometimes involving civil disobedience), RAN has worked to educate the public about the timber giant's anti-environmental role.

Boise Cascade was not amused by RAN's efforts. The company wrote to the nonprofit group's funders, complaining about its "harassment and intimidation"--such as the thousands of letters RAN got schoolchildren to write to Boise CEO George Harad asking him to end old-growth logging. The company's allies have also piled on: In June, the right-wing think tank Frontiers of Freedom (founded by former Republican senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and largely funded by R. J. Reynolds and Mobil) began a crusade to get the Internal Revenue Service to revoke RAN's tax-exempt status. RAN should be ineligible, the group contended, because of its "pressure campaigns aimed at forcing companies to change the way they do business." By way of example, they cite an October 2000 incident when "RAN activists taunted Boise Cascade by floating over the company's headquarters a 120-foot inflatable balloon shaped like a dinosaur and bearing a sign reading: 'Boise Cascade: I love logging old growth.'"

In the past, the IRS has drawn the line at tax- exempt nonprofits engaging in legislative advocacy, which is why the Sierra Club lost its tax-exempt status in 1966. But the Rainforest Action Network hasn't been trying to change laws--only corporate behavior. At issue now is whether advocacy can be considered educational, and if so, what kind. Should the IRS and the courts take a narrow view, free speech could be set back to the days of the dinosaurs. --Paul Rauber

Up to Top

HOME | Email Signup | About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | © 2008 Sierra Club