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The Planet

Leaner is Greener

Streamlining the Sierra Club

The Planet, July 1994, Volume 1, number 1


  • Leaner is Greener: Streamlining the Sierra Club
  • The Sierra Club Marines, Guarding the Oceans
  • In the Pipeline

Leaner is Greener: Streamlining the Sierra Club

A new era in Sierra Club history dawned this May, when its Board of Directors resolved to streamline the organization.

"There's been a growing realization over the last few years that the Sierra Club needs to change," said Henry Burton, chair of the Volunteer & Development Committee. "There have been piecemeal attempts at change and quick-fix solutions--but what we really need is a complete rethinking of the whole Sierra Club."

The ultimate goal of the restructuring initiative is to simplify the Sierra Club while maintaining its democratic character and financial health and enabling the organization to better achieve its conservation goals.

According to the criteria set by the board, the restructured Sierra Club , should:

  • Be inclusive and democratic.
  • Be capable of moving the Sierra Club's conservation priorities swiftly.
  • Devote the maximum financial and human resources to priorities and programs, and the minimum of those resources to internal process, governance and administration.
  • Build upon and encourage trust and a sense of community.
  • Enhance the Club's activist base.
  • Be financially viable in the short- and long-term.

Robbie Cox, president of the Sierra Club, has been charged by the board to involve appropriate volunteer leaders and staff in identifying and developing proposals that reflect these criteria. A set of initial proposals will be presented to the board at its annual July retreat.

A Restructuring Task Force has been established, with Cox as chair, to guide this endeavor. All Sierra Club members are encouraged to share their ideas and proposals for a "new" Sierra Club with this task force and other members.

For more information: To receive hard copies of documents about the restructuring effort, contact Sandra Good at (919) 933-0198. For those with cc:Mail access, #PROJECT RENEWAL, a public cc:Mail list, invites ideas and proposals. To be included on this list, contact the cc:Mail administrator using the "Help, cc:Mail" mailbox.

The Sierra Club Marines, Guarding the Oceans

The Sierra Club Marine Committee has its hands full this year, strengthening the Marine Mammal Protection Act-renewed in April with mixed results-and broadening the Magnuson Act, which regulates fishing in coastal waters [See alert, page 8].

At the same time, the Sierra Club has joined other environmental groups monitoring a proposed underwater scientific study that could unleash blaring bursts of sound on marine animals. Public outcry has so far delayed the proposed Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate, pending the completion of an environmental impact statement.

California's Scripps Institute of Oceanography has proposed building a network of submerged acoustic sources and receivers around the Pacific Basin, with some located in habitat for gray and humpback whales. The project is intended to develop more ac-curate data of changes in ocean temperature, which scientists say is necessary to measure the effects of global warming.

The sources, emitting sound intensities as high as 195 decibels, would be located within National Marine Sanctuaries near Big Sur, Calif., and Kauai, Hawaii. Sound levels of 160 decibels in water are painful to human ears; acoustically sensitive marine mammals, such as deep-diving whales, could sustain hearing damage from the same.

The Sierra Club, before taking a position on the program, is awaiting the completion of the environmental study.

Marine activists are also working to:

  • Protect coral reefs. The committee's "coral team" is developing a strategy to help protect coral reefs in the Florida Keys from pollution and overuse. Coral habitats off Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands are targeted for future protection efforts.
  • Block renewed efforts to lease areas of the continental shelf for offshore oil drilling. By refusing to budget money to conduct the sales, Congress has effectively placed a moratorium on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Bristol Bay. Oil and gas companies are again pressuring Congress to open up these areas to drilling.

To learn more about these issues, please contact Shirley Taylor, 1414 Hilltop Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32303. (904) 385-7862.

In the Pipeline

The Sierra Club is a volunteer-driven organization, and its policies reflect that.

From their conception to their final adoption by the Board of Directors, policies wend their way through much consultation and discussion.

The more voices that are heard in the policy-making process, the more effective each policy will be. All Sierra Club members are invited to share their opinions, concerns and ideas about proposed policies of interest to them.

Percolating up at present:

Population stabilization/reduction of consumption and pollution. Contact Frank Orem, 1720 Argonne Drive, Concord, CA 94518-3505; (510) 671-2958. This policy is on the agenda for the September 1994 Board of Directors meeting.

Military use of civilian public lands and airspace. Contact jonathan stoke, P.O. Box 2235, Hailey, ID 83333; (208) 788-5187.

A complete set of the Sierra Club's 42 policies is available by mail for $6.50, plus $1.75 for shipping and handling. Mail check or money order to: Sierra Club, Information Center. Individual policies available upon request. Contact: Information Center.

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