Sierra Club, main proponent of Wildlands Project, calls 'Lewis-Clark world degraded' - Calls for 'restoring wild America'

April 6, 2002 - the Sierra Club, well-known for its active promotion of The Wildlands Project (restoring 1/2 of the United States to "wildlands"), issued a report which was picked up by several papers around the West, including the Peninsula Daily News (front page story, April 4, 2002), and The Oregonian. Most of the article reflects what the Sierra Club had to say: only a brief paragraph was written to present the other side of the issue.  It is interesting to note that the promotion of rewilding the West, in particular, is a goal promoted by The Wildlands Project itself, founded by Dave Foreman of "Earth lst", the radical environmental group known for its illegal acts of destruction. (See their own site)

Stating that the plants and animals which Lewis & Clark discovered have "greatly diminished" would required that the team have far better capabilities then than we do even now, to record the numbers of animals and plants.  One example stated that "grizzly bears have been reduced to around 1,000 from a population that once topped 100,000.  How could Lewis & Clark have possibly counted 100,000 grizzly bears - they may have encounted one or two - or even a few, but 100,000?  Where is the "evidence" of these statements?  The Sierra Club goes on to state they want the grizzly bear listed as a threatened species.

The recommendations they make reveal some of the motives toward the radical idea of "rewilding America".  Here are a few (from the Peninsula Daily News, 4/5/02):

  • Permanently protect undeveloped wildlands by placing them under federal wilderness, monument, forest, grasslands or other designations.
  • Ban new road building and logging in all remaining roadless areas, and reduce the number of existing roads on public lands.
  • Ban oil and gas drilling in sensitive areas on public lands.  (What is 'sensitive'?)
  • Increase federal money to buy more private lands that provide critical habitat.
  • Keep the grizzly bear listed as a threatened species.
  • Breach four Snake River dams in Washington to help endangered salmon and steelhead runs. 

We see the invasion of the concept of "rewilding" through local issues like the designation of 'critical areas', ever-increasing 'buffers', the continuous tightening of regulations on water, and others that hit the rural areas, in particular, especially hard. People are 'encouraged' to move to 'urban areas' for the sake of getting rid of 'sprawl'.  These and other ideas all tie in to the promotion of 'restoration' of the land - in other words, the 'rewilding' of the land.

Read The 49-page Sierra Club report for yourself.  Click here. (pdf file)

The Oregonian wrote the following:

"Since the Lewis and Clark Expedition walked, paddled and rode across the West nearly 200 years ago, many of the plants and animals discovered by the explorers are on the decline, a new report by the Sierra Club says.

Of the 122 animal species the explorers were the first people of European descent to document, 40 percent have received some type of government designation as species of concern, said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. Two subspecies they found -- the plains gray wolf and Audubon's bighorn sheep -- are extinct.

"Several are gone forever. A number are on the brink," Pope said Thursday. "The good news is we have the opportunity to save what is left."

The Sierra Club, like hundreds of other organizations and government agencies from Virginia to Oregon, is using the 2003-2006 commemoration of the expedition to bring attention to its causes.

On Thursday in Portland, Pope released a report, "What's Lost, What's Left: A Status Report on the Plants & Animals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition." The 47-page reports cites urban sprawl in the Willamette Valley, as well as the remaining Snake River dams, as insults to the ecology the explorers encountered.

"There is no better way to commemorate the upcoming Lewis and Clark Bicentennial than to protect and restore wild America," he said.

The recommendations drew criticism from the Independence Institute of Golden, Colo., which promotes more use of public lands.

"All they do is say no," said Dave Kopel of the institute. "The Sierra Club can't ever come up with any examples of any drilling, exploration or resource extraction anywhere that it supports."

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson dispatched Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a military expedition to explore a trade route from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River. The expedition overcame incredible odds to survive and return to the East in 1806. The 31 men, one woman and an infant boy wintered near present-day Astoria in 1805-1806.

Among the many orders given the explorers, Jefferson wanted them to document new plants and animals they found on their journey. The 122 animal species documented by the expedition were joined by 178 plants new to science.

The Western Plains, particularly in Montana, were as game-rich at the turn of the 19th century as the African Serengeti is today, the Sierra Club said.

Today, however, things are far different. Animals like bison, grizzly bears and blackfooted ferrets are so reduced as to be a shadow of their populations 200 years ago.

Among the Sierra Club recommendations are to keep dirt bikes and snowmobiles out of sensitive areas, ban road-building and logging in all remaining roadless areas, and ban oil and gas drilling in sensitive areas."


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