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The Planet

Club Beat

The Planet, June 1997, Volume 4, number 5


  • Club Targets Shooters
  • Innovative Ohioan
  • Roadkill Rendezvous
  • Sticks and Stones
  • Club Nominee Wins Goldman Prize
  • Alabaman Honored
  • Club Employees Recognized
  • New Directors Elected
  • Locate that Leader
  • Demystifying the Post

Club Targets Shooters

The proposal for an airport in the middle of the Katy Prairie, home to America's largest concentration of wintering waterfowl, near Houston, Texas, has created unusual alliances between the Sierra Club, the National Rifle Association, the Women's Shooting Sports Foundation and others. More recently in Houston, at the Ladies' Charity Classic, the nation's largest sporting clay shoot for women, the Club joined groups such as the Katy Prairie Conservancy and set up an information booth amid advertising for hunting and fishing outfitters.

Despite some initial suspicion from all sides of the new alliance, Club activists felt they'd hit a bull's eye. "This first-class event went far in furthering public relations and enhancing the Club's image," says Marge Hanselman, Houston Group conservation chair. "It will also serve as a model for other such events around the country. Most of the hunting and outdoors media here now have our story. We hope their getting involved will spread the Sierra Club message to more people and lead to future environmental victories."

For more information: Contact Marge Hanselman at (713) 666-7494; e-mail:

Innovative Ohioan

The Ohio Chapter is getting the environmental message out to more people these days thanks to the innovative ideas of George Coder, Northeast Ohio Group Executive Committee member. Coder recently completed work on a media project that enables the chapter to fax press releases statewide in a matter of minutes to targeted newspapers in a given legislative district. To accomplish this he gathered circulation data on every newspaper in Ohio, while volunteer John Brookings wrote a computer program cross-referencing Coder's data with state district maps. "In the future we'll add radio and television markets to the database," says Coder.

Coder has also created a Web page that affords citizens easy access to Toxic Release Inventory data. "Our next step is to list actions citizens can take to eliminate or reduce the sources of pollution," he says.

For more information: Contact George Coder at (216) 221-6319; e-mail:

Roadkill Rendezvous

More than 80 activists from across the country are doing their part to ensure Utah wildlands remain roadless. For more than two years, volunteers from the Utah Wilderness Coalition, of which the Sierra Club is a member, have been mapping every road claim filed by county commissioners. Not only have they been able to provide documentation of erroneous claims by the county, but they're making sure that there are no roads included in the citizens' proposal to protect 5.7 million acres in southern Utah. To celebrate the culmination of their hard work and to thank the many individuals who were committed to the project, the volunteers gathered this April at Kodachrome Basin State Park, adjacent to the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. "The event was also an effort to finish documenting the claims on the wilderness-quality lands in southern Utah," says Liz McCoy, a Utah Wilderness Coalition staffer. "Over 75 claims have been completed. A huge success!"

Sticks and Stones

If being called "Nature Nazis" by a motorcycle group makes members of the Sierra Student Coalition nervous, they're not showing it. The Sahara Club, an organization of off-road vehicle enthusiasts, blasted the SSC in its newsletter recently and accused it of jamming politicians' phone lines and allowing only the Sierra Club's message to get through when anti-environmental legislation is pending.

"We're glad they've noticed our work," says SSC President Kim Mowery. "Thanks to our 30,000 student members, the SSC has developed a powerful activist network and the ability to respond in force when the environment is threatened."

For more information: Contact the Sierra Student Coalition at (401) 861-6012; e-mail:

Club Nominee Wins Goldman Prize

The 1997 Goldman Environmental Prizes were recently awarded to six environmental heroes from around the world. Among the winners is Alexander Nikitin, a retired Russian naval officer, who was nominated by the Sierra Club. Nikitin exposed the potential for nuclear catastrophe in northwestern Russia, where the nation's crumbling submarine fleet is based (see March/April Sierra magazine). As a result of the report he co-authored with the Norwegian environmental group Bellona, Nikitin was imprisoned and charged with treason; the report was banned. While international public pressure contributed to Nikitin's release from prison, the charges have not been dropped, and he is not allowed to leave St. Petersburg, where he is awaiting trial.

"Alexander Nikitin's only crime was to embarrass the Russian government in an attempt to protect the environment," says Stephen Mills, director of the Club's Human Rights and the Environment Campaign. "The Club is calling on Vice President Al Gore to see that the espionage charges are investigated and that Nikitin has a chance to clear his name in court."

The other Goldman Prize winners are Terri Swearingen of Ohio for her work to halt the construction of toxic waste incinerators; Paramount Chief of the Bentian Tribal Council Loir Botor Dingit of Indonesia for galvanizing national attention to the sustainable conservation practices of Kalimantan's indigenous peoples; Juan Pablo Orrego of Chile for repeatedly foiling dam construction plans on the Bio Bio River, one of the world's last free-flowing rivers; Nick Carter of Zambia for taking the lead in creating the world's first multinational enforcement body to fight illegal wildlife trade; and American Paul Alan Cox and High Chief Fuiono Senio of Western Samoa for their combined efforts to stop logging in a lowland rainforest, establish a preserve and build a new school for the village.

The Sierra Club is seeking nominations of environmentalists for the 1998 prize. The nomination deadline is Aug. 29, 1997.

For more information: Contact Stephen Mills at (202) 675-6691; e-mail:

Alabaman Honored

Rebecca Falkenberry, a longtime Club leader and teacher of environmental issues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has received the Alabama Environmental Council's highest honor, Volunteer Conservationist of the Year. This award is given to individuals who dedicate their lives to protecting Alabama's environment through volunteer service. Falkenberry was honored for her activism with the Club at the local, state and national levels. After serving six years on the Sierra Club Board of Directors, Falkenberry has again become actively involved with the Alabama Chapter as a speaker and organizer on behalf of the environment.

Club Employees Recognized

Four Club employees were selected in April to receive awards honoring their service to the Club or the community.

Mary Catherine Dino, data systems manager in San Francisco, is this year's winner of the Virginia Ferguson Award, which honors an employee who has worked at the Club for at least three years and who has demonstrated exemplary service to the Sierra Club.

There were two winners of the Special Achievement Award this year. Alita Paine, director of volunteer and activist outreach, was commended for her improvements to the quality and efficiency of volunteer services. Chris Douglas, computer systems manager for the Washington, D.C., and field offices, was recognized for improvements he has made to the Club's data and communications systems. The Community Service Award, given to honor individuals who help others through public service in a non-Sierra Club cause, went to Kirk Koepsel, regional representative for the Northern Plains field office, for his long history of community service. Koepsel is president of the Lion's Club as well as chairman of the county Democratic Party in Sheridan, Wyo., and has been a volunteer with Big Brothers of America.

New Directors Elected

The results are in for the 1997 Sierra Club Board of Directors election. Elected to three-year terms are Phil Berry, environmental lawyer and past Club president; Michael Dorsey, environmental activist and Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University; Betsy Gaines, member of the Montana Chapter Executive Committee and environmental outreach director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies; Chad Hanson, Club activist and forest protection advocate; and Adam Werbach, the Sierra Club's president. The board was preparing to elect its officers for the year as the Planet went to press.

-- Pat Veitch

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