Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

Your Local Sierra Club: New Places, New Faces

by Trevor Kaul, Cascade Chapter Director

The Cascade Chapter has long been a leading voice for environmental protection in Washington.  With your help, we have won protections for special places like the Reiter Foothills and Wild Sky Wilderness Area. And over the years, we have helped change the way our state’s leaders think about urban issues like transportation and city planning. 

Now your local chapter is making some changes that will help us even better represent the interests of our state’s environment.

In 2009 our membership voted overwhelmingly to expand our chapter’s borders to match those of the state. By bringing the dedicated leaders of the Upper Columbia River Group (Spokane area) and the Palouse Group (Pullman area) into our chapter we not only increase our ability to represent all of Washington to the state’s decision makers, we are welcoming a much needed perspective to our work. 

Washington’s diversity of ecosystems is a big part of what makes our state such a special place to live. By joining with leaders like John and Rachel Osborn, Don Combs, and others who live and play in eastern Washington, we will be able to do an even better job of protecting Washington’s environment.

Our recent growth isn’t limited to the eastern part of the state.  A new group of great leaders has emerged near Sequim and Port Angeles. The North Olympic Conservation Committee is chaired by Josey Paul and has over 30 active volunteers working on issues from wilderness protection and energy issues to local politics. 

As a volunteer-powered organization, 90 percent of our program work is driven by people who donate their time and talent to make Washington a better place.  Their passion allows our chapter, with a less than $400,000 budget and only 4 staff, to be present all across the state. Leading hikes in special places, testifying before decision-makers in Olympia, or huddled together to determine the right ways to protect our shorelines, these volunteer leaders are constantly working to make our state a better place to live. 

In 2010 you’ll see other changes too.  Due to financial challenges, we’ll be reducing the number of printed newsletters we send out each year and converting to an on-line version.  While we recognize this change may make it harder for some to keep up with our work, it will ultimately save precious financial and natural resources.

Finally, our most senior staff member, Legislative Director, Craig Engelking, has taken a job with another long time Sierra Club leader.  Seattle’s new Mayor, Mike McGinn, has hired Craig to represent the city of Seattle to the state legislature.  While we’ll certainly miss both Mike and Craig, we couldn’t be more proud of them and look forward to working with them for years to come. 

Change is at the root of the Sierra Club and what we do.  Thanks for all you do to make that change not just possible, but a reality.