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The Sierra Club Bulletin: News for Members

Sierra Scholars | Our Ears Are Burning | Take Action | Express Yourself | Grassroots

Sierra Scholars

Club grants to students help build healthier mountain communities

by Jennifer Hattam

Zachary Orman had his epiphany while skiing in Stanislaus National Forest, where a bleak clearcut spoiled the majestic view. Kham Vang awoke at a peaceful campsite on the Feather River to find a landscape full of litter. Tiffany Schegg grew angry watching tourist development overwhelm her friendly small town of Truckee. Whether in a moment or over a few years, these high school seniors realized their Sierra Nevada homes were changing—and not for the better.

Like many other young people, Zachary, Kham, and Tiffany will leave for college this fall. But unlike many others, they plan to return after graduation to help build a community that doesn’t rely on logging and harmful development. In essays that won them scholarships from the Sierra Club, they described their pivotal experiences in nature, their academic plans, and their dreams of saving the forests, increasing environmental awareness, and preserving their communities’ heritage.

The three are among 20 students—10 each from California and Nevada—who will receive $1,000 toward tuition for each of their four years in college. "These young people give us hope for the future," says Leah Fontaine, a Kern-Kaweah Chapter activist who has been helping award scholarships for the past six years to high school graduates from small communities or rural areas in the Sierra Nevada.

"All my town needs is one person to stand up and let people know that we will not let our environment be taken over," Tiffany wrote in her scholarship essay. Fortunately, there’s not just one person ready to take on the job—there are 20.

More Information To learn more about the scholarship, visit or contact the Sierra Club’s California/Nevada Field Office at (916) 557-1100, ext. 112. Students living in the Colorado Plateau region of Utah are eligible for a similar scholarship; contact the Utah Field Office at (801) 467-9297 or e-mail for details.

Our Ears Are Burning

[Answer:] " ‘Climb the mountains and get their good tidings’ was a goal of this group at its 19th-century founding."

[Question:] "What is the Sierra Club?"

    —"Final Jeopardy," on the April 18, 2003, episode of Jeopardy

"Marilyn Skolnick, a senior citizen and longtime Sierra Club leader, shuffled to the microphone and was given the courtesy of a chair while she testified at yesterday’s U.S. EPA public meeting in Pittsburgh on environmental issues affecting the aged. In her seated position she turned the agency and the Bush administration over her knee to give them a virtual spanking for seeking to weaken clean air rules."

    —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 24, 2003. (Two weeks later, the administration dropped its proposal to "discount" the value of seniors’ lives saved by new environmental regulations.)

"Lewis and Clark might be the only thing the Sierra Club and [Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho] could talk about at all."

    —The Oregonian, April 27, 2003

Take Action

Visit, where you can sign up for the Take Action Network to send free messages to your elected officials.

For the inside story about Club conservation campaigns and how you can help, ask for a free subscription to the bimonthly print newsletter the Planet. Send an e-mail to, or write to the Office of Volunteer and Activist Services, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105-3441.

Express Yourself

To make your voice count on environmental issues, we recommend that you write, fax, or call (rather than e-mail) your elected officials at:

U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

U.S. Capitol Switchboard
(202) 224-3121

Contact President Bush at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Comment line (202) 456-1111
Fax (202) 456-2461


by Reed McManus

Missouri | Colorado | South Carolina

Stream Team
Activists in Missouri are celebrating the news that almost all of their state’s rivers and lakes are labeled "impaired" on a recent EPA list. No, their polluted waters haven’t addled their brains. The federal designation means Missouri environmental officials can no longer ignore the state’s widespread water-quality problems. For all waters included on the list, the state must develop a plan to reduce pollution. It’s a huge victory for Sierra Club volunteers and their Missouri Stream Team–as well as for the Club’s nationwide Water Sentinels program: The EPA relied on data collected by volunteers in making many of its impairment determinations. (See "The Sierra Club Bulletin," May/June.)

Chipper Environmentalists
The Bush administration says widespread logging is what’s needed to protect westerners from the ravages of wildfires. The Sierra Club says thinning projects and controlled burns near populated areas will do the trick—and leave behind healthy, not denuded, forests. To show they’re willing to put effort behind their ideas, members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter showed up in Summit County, Colorado, early one blustery June morning to help residents protect their properties. Employing four dumpsters and three wood chippers, 57 volunteers helped remove 14 tons of fire-prone slash that threatened nearly a dozen homes.

South Carolina
Blame Nature
In April the South Carolina Supreme Court declared the obvious: If you buy waterfront lots, you take the risk that they may wash away over time. Sam McQueen purchased two properties on filled tidal marsh in the 1960s, but never built on them. In the meantime, tides and storms inexorably reshaped the land. By 1991, when McQueen applied for permits to build bulkheads, the lots had reverted to salt marsh and mudflats—and were subject to restrictions on the development of wetlands. Instead of awarding McQueen financial compensation for the land he lost, the court sided with the Sierra Club’s South Carolina Chapter, pointing out that it was nature, not the state, that had taken his property. And nature, it turns out, is very difficult to sue.

Contact Us
Spotlight Sierra Club activism in your area by writing to Reed McManus at Sierra, 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; e-mail; fax (415) 977-5794.

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