January 19, 2012

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Celebrates Three Milestones in 2012

Media Contact:  Gail Philbin, 312-493-2384

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Celebrates Three Milestones in 2012

Chapter’s 45th Anniversary; National’s 120th; and 25th of Michigan Wilderness Act

Lansing – Lynne Stauff and Dave Errickson can honestly say the nation’s oldest environmental organization changed their lives.  The Lansing residents met on a Club outing in Glacier National Park in 2006, got engaged at another park and tied the knot last August.

“My first Sierra Club outing brought me the love of my life,” says Errickson.  “In five years of membership, I have gotten back far more than I could ever give.”

 “We courted over trail work, splashing boulders in a muddy stream, rinsing off in a cold creek, sharing meals with like-minded people while watching the sun set over the mountains,” Stauff adds. “We still enjoy Sierra Club trips and volunteering with our local chapter.  It’s been an adventure of a lifetime!”

Even folks who can’t attribute the success of their love lives to the Sierra Club owe a great deal to this national organization, which celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2012, and to the Michigan Chapter, which fetes its 45th.

“If you’ve ever enjoyed Sleeping Bear Dunes, Grand Island, Nordhouse Dunes or many other wild places in Michigan or around the country, you have the Sierra Club to thank,” says Jean Gramlich, an Oakland County resident and chair of the Chapter’s Executive Committee.  “Its victories are a part of the fabric of our lives.”

The national Sierra Club played a key role in killing a plan to flood the Grand Canyon in the 1960s after mobilizing thousands of people in protest in the days before the internet and social media. Similarly, since its founding in 1967, the Michigan Chapter has had many important victories, beginning with the protection of 35 miles of pristine coastline that became Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1970.

The Michigan Chapter’s success stories range from the historic 1987 Michigan Wilderness Act, which protected 90,000 acres of old growth forests, lakes and dunes, to a 2002 ban on Great Lakes oil drilling to 2008 legislation requiring power companies to invest in alternative energy and energy efficiency.  The volunteer-led organization’s advocacy helped shut down old coal-fired power plants and stop new ones from being built, blocked over 100 damaging oil and gas leases, and brought greater scrutiny and regulation to factory farms.

Yet, the victory Chapter Director Anne Woiwode takes most pride in is the Michigan Wilderness Act, passed in 1987 after a 10-year political battle she witnessed as a young environmentalist. The law created 10 now-familiar wilderness areas full of remote lakes and spectacular dunes:  Big Island Lake, Delirium, Horseshoe Bay, Mackinac, McCormick, Nordhouse Dunes, Rock River Canyon, Round Island, Sturgeon River Gorge, and Sylvania.

“My son came home from college after a visit to Nordhouse Dunes and raved about it, asking if I’d ever heard of it,” recalls Woiwode. “I was happy and proud to know the Sierra Club had ensured that he and future generations would be able to enjoy this great natural treasure.”

The Michigan Chapter will observe its year of anniversaries with a variety of events such as film screenings, wilderness outings and presentations to underscore the vital role it has played in protecting the state’s natural heritage. For details, visit www.michigan.sierraclub.org or contact Gail Philbin at gail.philbin@sierraclub.org

January 12, 2012

Sierra Club-GVSUFilm Series Celebrates Three Anniversaries in 2012

Media Contact:  Gail Philbin, 312-493-2384

Screening of "Gasland" Spotlights Latest Environmental Threat to Michigan

Grand Rapids -- The Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter and Grand Valley State University’s School of Communications join forces to celebrate three Sierra Club milestones in 2012 with a film series and membership drive that kicks off with a free, public screening of the award-winning documentary “Gasland.”  The movie and a post-screening Q&A take place Thursday, Feb. 16, 7-9 pm. at GVSU’s Loosemore Auditorium, 401 Fulton St. W, Grand Rapids.

The event and collaboration honor the 45th anniversary of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter and the 120th of the national organization, and it marks the 25th anniversary of the Michigan Wilderness Act. This 1987 legislation, spearheaded by the Michigan Chapter, protected 90,000 acres of old growth forests, dunes and lakes after a 10-year political battle to designate the best of Michigan’s three million acres of national forest lands as wilderness.

“This is a great way to introduce people to the Sierra Club, because the movie is about a new environmental threat we’ve seen here in Michigan and are tackling head on,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Chapter director.

“Gasland,” an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning film by Josh Fox, offers a first-person account of the filmmaker’s quest to find out more about hydraulic fracturing –“ fracking” for short -- a brutal but increasingly popular method of extracting deep-seated natural gas that has come to Michigan in recent years. Exempt from environmental regulations, fracking blasts 3-7 million gallons of chemical-laced water into rock to release gas.  The result is air pollution and toxic water wells that can produce flaming faucets, as shown in “Gasland,” and even earthquakes.

The Michigan Chapter has been working with legislators on a package of bills to delay fracking in Michigan and strengthen regulations to protect people from the fallout of this dangerous process. The approach represents just one of a variety of tactics including grassroots action, coalition building and litigation that has helped the Chapter secure numerous environmental protections in the last five decades. In addition to the Michigan Wilderness Act, its diverse victories include the protection of 35 miles of pristine coastline that became Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 1970, a 2002 ban on Great Lakes oil drilling, and 2008 legislation requiring power companies to invest in alternative energy and consumer energy efficiency.

The joint Sierra Club-GVSU celebration in 2012 represents the first-ever collaboration between the nation’s oldest environmental organization and the only Michigan university deemed one of the top 25 "cutting edge" green colleges in the United States by the 2009 Kaplan College Guide.  It coincides with GVSU’s winter semester and will feature another environmental film screening on campus April 5th and student recruitment activities including a wilderness outing hosted by GVSU film professors John Philbin and John Schmit.

“In the 1980s while living in California, I got hooked on the Great Outdoors and joined the Sierra Club – it was a place I found kindred spirits,” says Philbin, who made a documentary about Yosemite National Park rangers in 1986.  “And Sierra Magazine got me dreaming of hiking trips to all the national parks. I’m happy to help introduce the Club to my students and rally a new generation to the cause.”

For more on Gasland, visit: www.gaslandthemovie.com.  For details about Sierra Club’s anniversary year, contact Gail Philbin at gail.philbin@sierraclub.org or 517-484-2372, ext. 16. For information about the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, visit www.michigan.sierraclub.org.

January 2, 2012

"Too many children losing connection to world around us"

"Too many children losing connection to world around us" 

January 02, 2012 -- Jackson Citizen Patriot guest column by Mark Muhich Click here to read full story.

January 19, 2012
Media Contact:  Gail Philbin, 312-493-2384