Is the Sierra Club Believable?

Would you believe that a plea for a contribution to the liberal, ultra-green Sierra Club was sent to the household of the officers of the Property Rights Foundation of America? It was signed by the Club’s Executive Director. Apparently, that Pope feels that their propaganda has been so effective as to win over the Foundation.

Needless to say, the Foundation is fully aware of Sierra’s agenda and its lofty status among the cadre of radical environmental groups who effectively use bad science, deception, and plays on emotions to enlist millions of naive followers. The request letter is loaded with statements that must be challenged.

It begins with the salutation “Dear Friend.” It immediately pleads for help in stopping big special interests. Use of such a term automatically conjures up hostility. Is not the Sierra Club a decidedly narrow-minded special interest?

The target of their opposition is the Bush administration and its unwillingness to implement the Wild Forest Protection Plan which called for ending road building and cutting of timber on an additional 60 million acres of National Forest land. The President’s actions were backed up by a judge. They note that this plan had been a bold initiative of ex-President Clinton. Unless they are appealing only to diehard liberals, they might be wise to avoid using this person’s name. It has become apparent that he has finally fallen to the level of the American public’s disfavor that he rightly deserves for disgracing his office.

Incidentally, the severity of this summer’s forest fires can in part be attributed to previous locking up of vast acreages by wilderness declaration. Such actions result in dangerously high fuel levels and elimination of access by firefighting personnel and equipment. And naturally it is never mentioned by the environmentalists that the purpose of the 1890 enabling legislation authorizing the establishment of National Forests was to guarantee a future supply of timber. Nothing was said about providing wilderness areas for the enjoyment of Sierra Clubbers, or others. The recent laws creating the Wilderness areas are sacredly adhered to, why not the National Forest one? Might it have something to do with the power of special interest groups?

The letter makes serious accusations about commercial logging such as turning wild places into desolate moonscapes, destroying wildlife habitats and unique recreation opportunities, and adversely affecting drinking water supplies. Obviously, this is all designed to pull on one’s heartstrings, or purse strings, but it is basically pure nonsense. The term “moonscapes” might rightly apply to the lava beds and craters common in central Oregon or many of the low elevation deserts, all created by Mother Nature. Interestingly, the Crater Lakes area is very attractive and campers seem to relish the idea of setting up tents in the hostile lava beds. Commercial logging rarely creates anything resembling a moonscape.

For the most part loggers do a splendid job of policing themselves, in addition to being confronted with all sorts of regulations. The U.S. Forest Service dictates the details of cutting operations and should insure that things are done right. Just guessing, the author of the letter intended to use the term clearcutting here, which is a very acceptable forest management practice, but one that has been effectively maligned by the greens to bring out rage in their followers. Sierra should have more faith in Mother Nature, since she sees to it that openings created are very short-lived, developing into young forests in a very few years. In the drier portion of the West where regeneration is slower, much tree planting is employed.

And habitat is not destroyed by cutting. It is obviously modified, to the benefit of some wildlife species and the detriment of others. Often it produces much more biological diversity, and is not diversity great? If vital habitat is involved, such as for a truly endangered species, it should be identified and effectively protected. Have any problems been sensibly identified in connection with logging on the forest’s impact on the purity of water supplies? These are generally remote lands, with small communities scattered on their edges. Needless to say, if real problems exist, they should be corrected.

Mention of unique recreational opportunities brings up all sorts of basic questions. If a site is truly unique it certainly should be singled out, but generally this is not the case. It has become a matter of the environmentalists being inflicted with insatiable appetites and packrat mentalities. They want more, more, more, and more land locked up. They more they have, the more power they possess. Supply and demand and cost to benefit analyses are passé.

In matters of this nature the Sierra Club and other groups are either oblivious to the fact that our great country is grossly under-populated in respect to human carrying capacity, or they chose to ignore reality. Surely they have access to Rand McNally road atlases. It only takes a few minutes of thumbing through to conclude that the bulk of the human population resides in cities and along the Eastern Seaboard. The areas colored in orange represent an extremely small percent of the total land area. There is obviously a superabundance of open space of all sorts of descriptions, which incidentally is grossly under utilized in respect to recreational opportunities afforded. Why are they not proud of the bounty of this country?

In respect to the above, the general public appears to be quite gullible, due to the deception foisted on them and possibly also because when they travel it is generally by air from city to city. Recently there has been a marvelous commercial aired on television by an auto leasing company. It raises the question of how much is missed at 35,000 feet, and encourages people to rent cars, poke on the backroads, see what you have missed, and learn what this great country is all about.

Throughout the letter the Sierra Club tries to create the impression that the forests in the United States are disappearing. Throughout the Rockies there is more acreage in trees and also much more old growth forest than when white men first set foot there. In northeastern states forest acreage dramatically increased during the 20th Century. For example, in New York State during the mid-1800’s only twenty-five percent of the land supported forests. Today the figure is 62 percent. Undoubtedly, Sierra is aware of such. They must have access to U.S. Forest Service data.

Finally, they claim that they do not have the enormous wealth of their opponent, but included in their packet is a flyer pronouncing that it was named the most effective environmental organization. Is this an oxymoron, or what?

Nate Dickinson
September 21, 2002

Email Nate Dickinson: rdickinson@nycap.rr.com

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