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