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The Planet

April 1998, Volume 5, Number 3

Hooting and Howling About Earth Day

By Jenny Coyle

    It might mean dressing up as a woodchuck for a parade. It might mean chanting and waving signs at a shareholders’ meeting. It might mean leading a hike to an endangered natural area.

    In April, Sierra Club volunteers will do whatever it takes to spread the 1998 Earth Day message: “Help us defend the places we live and the places we love.”

    Members of the Sasquatch Group in Olympia, Wash., plan to don wildlife costumes and have a good time while they spread the message: They’ll take part in the community’s annual Processional of the Species Parade on April 17.

    “It’s a joyous celebration of a community that cares about the environment,” says group vice chair Ingrid Hansen. “All of Olympia turns out. There are hardly any people on the sidewalk watching because they’re all in the parade.”

    In Florida, groups plan to use the Earth Day benchmark as a time to educate, celebrate and raise money. On April 25, the Tampa Group will participate in “Ocean Commotion” at the Tampa Aquarium. They’ll teach children about the Florida black bear, a candidate for endangered-species listing, by helping them make bear masks.
    “We’ll also try to have a low-key exhibit on the dangers of orimulsion, if we can get away with it,” says Environmental Public Education Campaign organizer Beth Connor, explaining that booths deemed controversial are sometimes evicted. Orimulsion is a dirty, untested fuel that Florida Power and Light wants approval to burn.

    The 10 most endangered natural areas in and around Phoenix will be destinations for conservation outings led by members of the Palo Verde Group in Arizona’s Grand Canyon Chapter and other environmental groups on April 18 and 19. “These are lands that are in the path of development,” says Arizona EPEC organizer Renee Guillory. “Our Sonoran Desert is being developed at the rate of an acre an hour. We want to save our natural heritage.” Some of the hikes will entail trash clean-up and trail restoration.

    Another form of education — a protest — will be employed by members of the Georgia Chapter when they rally outside the DuPont Corp. annual shareholders’ meeting in Wilmington, Del. “We’ll be there for every shareholders’ meeting until DuPont abandons its plans to mine titanium oxide next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,” says Sam Collier, associate representative in the Club’s Atlanta office.
    For something completely different, the Loma Prieta Chapter in California will use Earth Week to kick off its “Green Teams” program, the organization of small, self-led groups that meet weekly for six weeks to measure, discuss, and attempt to reduce consumption of water, energy and other resources.

    Ed Paynter, special events chair for the Heartlands Group in Indianapolis, Ind. reports that on April 18 they’ll hold their sixth annual “Pullin’ O’ the Greens” event. Volunteers will gather at Marott Park, a nature preserve, to weed-out exotic, non-native plant species that compete with wildflowers.

    And Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) will know it’s Earth Day when 100 Denver schoolchildren present him with an environmental report card rife with Fs in subjects like working to protect endangered species, fighting for clean air and stopping roadbuilding in national forests.

    Nearly all of these sites will be distributing EPEC postcards. The cards send the message that President Clinton needs to take bold action to protect the environment. And though we welcome his latest environmental proposals, they contain loopholes and omissions.

    Making a splash on Earth Day may help turn Clinton’s words into actions. So get out your woodchuck costume — and start marching.

    For more information: Contact your local chapter or group.

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