Looking out for us

Since September 11, most media reports have focused on terrorist activities, and rightly so. But in between those updates have been reports of smaller events that just as significantly threaten our way of life. The environment, which binds us all to the earth, is often used as a catchword, sometimes to solicit votes, sometimes to elicit a warm fuzzy feeling towards our government. But rarely do governments do much of significance about environmental problems. Our air and land are fouled by chemicals, our oceans depleted and polluted, but we hear the details only long after the damage has been done. 

We can be grateful that non-profit organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, and others fight the good fight when it comes to protecting our untamed and sometimes not-so-wild areas. Lately, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been in the news. Should we drill for oil on the Refuge’s coastal plain, or preserve this Serengeti of the North? No matter what side you’re on, being well informed will give you the information needed to making an educated decision.

Andrew Nicholls, an energy analyst, has backpacked in the Refuge several times on Sierra Club trips. In a two-part slide show on Wednesday, March 20, he will give an overview of oil and Alaska’s phenomenal beauty. First, he’ll provide background and context for our oil use, and try to answer the question, “Can the oil from the Refuge make a difference on our reliance on imported oil?” Second, drawing upon a trip he took in June 1999, he’ll show what it was like to backpack among the migrating caribou under the midnight sun.

Aside from activism on environmental issues, the Sierra Club organizes many outings and hikes during the year. This weekend will be a 9.8 -mile hike along the Appalachian Trail from Reeds Gap to Humpback Gap.  Much of the route parallels the ridge, so it is relatively level with only a couple of moderate climbs.


The Sierra Club’s general membership meeting and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge presentation take place Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on the corner of Alderman and Ivy Roads. Free.  434-293-5901. For the Reeds Gap to Humpback Gap hike, Saturday, March 16, meet at 8:45am sharp at the parking lot on the east side of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Humpback Gap (7 miles from Parkway start at Afton). Bring lunch, water, snacks, and dress like you mean it. Call Janet at 263-6199 with questions and to check on the morning of the hike if the weather is questionable.



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