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|EXPLORE, ENJOY AND PROTECT THE PLANET|
Chapter Chair Report|
Margaret Pennington, Sonoma Group
Good news: Legislation to Protect California Wilderness
As you have probably heard by now, in mid-May Senator Barbara Boxer introduced in the Senate the "California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002." This bill will protect approximately 2.5 million acres of public lands in 77 different areas across the state, as well as the free-flowing portions of 22 rivers. Congressperson Mike Thompson will introduce a companion bill in the House that calls for wilderness designation for the Northern California areas in Boxer's bill.
About 25% of those areas and 25% of the total designated acreage are within our Redwood Chapter boundaries so our region will especially benefit from passage of the bill. It would ensure that these federally owned lands will remain open for recreational activities including horseback riding, fishing, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, and canoeing. Destructive activities such as logging, construction, motorized vehicles, and new mining or drilling will be prohibited.
The bill also protects hundreds of plant and animal species that live in these areas, including threatened and endangered species. Because many of the potential wilderness areas are lower elevation than the "rock and ice" regions first protected as wilderness in California, they are home to an even greater variety of plants and animals making them even more important for preserving ecological values and the web of life.
Just days before Senator Boxer's announcement I had the great pleasure of exploring parts of Middle Eel and Yuki potential wilderness areas as coordinator of a National Sierra Club Activist Outing showcasing the California Wild Heritage Campaign. Thanks to Redwood Chapter wilderness campaign advocate, Lynn Ryan, for joining us and leading the way along the Traveler's Home, Hell Hole Canyon, and Barnes Ranch trails (all within Mendocino National Forest).
As Chapter Chair I don't spend nearly as much time as I'd like actually on the ground getting to know our beautiful Redwood Chapter backyard, so this trip was especially delightful and inspiring for me. I encourage everyone to check out the California Wild Heritage campaign hike schedule (www.californiawild.org) and treat yourself to a trek in one of our spectacular Redwood Chapter potential wilderness areas.
If you'd like to help with or find out more about the California Wild Heritage Campaign please contact Lynn Ryan, Teri Shore, Steven Day or me. (See contact information on page 2 of Needles.) Now that the bills will be making their way through Congress there's lots to do and even just a couple of hours of your time would be greatly appreciated.
Also, please write or call Senator Feinstein and ask her to support the Senate bill (202-224-3841, 331 Hart Building, Washington DC, 20501) and please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in support of the California Wilderness.
More Good Redwood Chapter News
We recently received a National Sierra Club Environmental Protection Education Campaign (EPEC) grant to Protect and Restore Northwestern California's National Forests.
The goal of our public education campaign is to protect special National Forest places, reform Forest Service management, phase out commercial logging and promote restoration on the Klamath, Siskiyou, Shasta-Trinity, Six Rivers and Mendocino National Forests.
The grant will fund a full-time campaign organizer and expenses. We are excited to have the opportunity to launch a full campaign to protect our National Forest lands and to do so in conjunction with ongoing efforts to bring responsible forestry practices to private forest lands.
You will be hearing much more about Protecting and Restoring Northwestern California's National Forests, our heritage, our future in the months to come. A kick-off event is planned for Monday July 15th , 7-9 pm, at Sonoma Group's monthly Environmental Forum held at the Sonoma County Environmental Center, 404 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa. For more information, or to help with the campaign, contact Diane Beck or me.
Eel River Blues
The Activist Trip I mentioned above ended with four days rafting on the Eel River. Despite average rainfall this year the flow on the Middle Eel was lower than normal so our trip moved to the Main stem Eel through the Eel River Canyon. The flows there were also extremely low which was a vivid reminder for me of the toll the Potter Valley diversion takes on the Eel River ecosystem. Essentially, by May the Eel from Dos Rios to the confluence with the North Fork is running at about half its natural flow. As difficult as that may make life for rafters it's even harder on the fish.
The river itself, low flow and all, was exquisite in spite of the debris left behind by the railroad cars in the river and along the shore, crumbled retaining walls, washed out tunnels, sections of rail strewn here and there, assorted pieces of metal both along the banks and in the river bed, and the ubiquitous broken culverts. I came away with a renewed sense of caring for the Eel and exasperation at the neglect exhibited by the rail operation.
I was reminded of Robert Fulghum's wisdom in All I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten:
"Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebodyThink of what a better world it would be ifwe had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes."
"it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." In many ways that's just what the Sierra Club is about.