Outside magazine, June 1999
Pro and Conservation
After reading your exhaustive green-groups package ("Near to the Ground," April), I feel compelled to express a newfound sense of motivation, as well as the desire, to aid the cause of protecting our environment at a local level. Regional activism works! The local warriors are the ones who've still "got the juice." Our problems with clean air, clean water, wildlife, suburban sprawl, resort expansion, and motorized recreation--not to mention our need for more green space and conservation easements--must be solved at a local level.
We read with interest and no small amusement Florence Williams's assessment of the regional environmental groups ("The Report Card"), but we were confused by your description of our average member as being "a New Yorker who clutches Ed Abbey on subway rides to the climbing gym." Most of our members live in the West--New Yorkers (god love 'em!) are only 0.5 percent of our membership. Perhaps a more accurate description would have been "Boulderite stuck in traffic in an SUV on the commute to Denver, listening to Terry Tempest Williams reading Refuge."
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Salt Lake City, Utah
What a shame to characterize the Southwest Center's victories as successful environmentalism ("Scorching the Earth to Save It"). Protecting endangered species does not occur in a courtroom, but on the ground, with stewardship. Managed grazing can control invasive weeds that have choked out native California wildflowers in many "preserves." Similarly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized grazing as a tool to maintain habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox in northern California. If Kierán Suckling is interested in protecting the environment, maybe he should study ecology instead of philosophy.
Los Gatos, California
We were surprised to read in "The Old Guard" that the National Audubon Society was "giving up on big-issue Capitol Hill advocacy." While it is true that Audubon has gained renewed effectiveness by expanding our state office system, the assertion that we "gave up in D.C." to do this is dead wrong. Our budget for public policy advocacy has tripled over the past three years, and our expanded Washington, D.C., staff is aggressively working to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Everglades and to improve the Endangered Species Act.
President, National Audubon Society
New York, New York
I found April's Field Notes by Ken Kalfus to be both entertaining and uplifting ("I've Fallen, and I'm Pretending I Can't Get Up"). As an EMT, paramedic, and outdoor type for over 20 years, my experience has consistently been that while a doc may be great in the ER, he is a hindrance in the field. This, by the way, is in no way meant to be disrespectful to doctors. Rest assured, you don't want me doing brain surgery.
I don't know jack about ballooning, but how much skill can possibly be involved in a world record one can set on his second flight as a licensed pilot, as Steve Fossett has been tirelessly praised for doing ("The Alpha Class," March)? The other distinguished members of your list--Alex Lowe, Eric Pehota, Isabelle Autissier, Borge Øusland, and Bill Stone--developed their amazing abilities in relative obscurity. Fossett is not an extreme adventurer; he is extremely wealthy.
Tuba City, Arizona
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