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November/December 2007

Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Susquehanna Group


Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings).
General Meetings: These
are held at 7:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (it is on Route 26 - from Route 17, follow 26 n. to Endicott, w. on E. Main, n. on Nanticoke). The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Call Jack Davis, 570-553-2081, or Scott Lauffer, 341-3746 or for further information.

Tuesday, Nov. 20
Candor High School Envirothon Team
6:30 pm: Potluck Dinner: Bring a dish to share (including an ingredient list). We encourage locally grown and/or organic. Bring own place setting and drink of preference, coffee and hot water (for tea/hot chocolate) provided.
7:30 pm: Program: For the
past three years, the Candor High School Envirothon team has won the New York State championship and gone on to represent NY in the North American Finals.. Now in its 20th year, the Envirothon is a program of learning and testing in environmental subjects, specifically aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a current issue, which this year is alternative and renewable energy. They will talk about and show us what they have to prepare for, what going through the competition is like, and how they value the environment. See:

Tuesday, Dec. 18
Peace Mission to Iran
Helena Garan traveled to Iran in May 2007 as a Civilian Diplomat with a Peace Delegation sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconcilliation ( Please come and see her pictures and learn about this ancient country, its culture and history.

Sun, Dec. 9, 1 pm
Discover Jones Park
Meet on Main St., Westover (across from BAE in Johnson City), or at Jones Park at 1:30 pm .

We will join the Triple Cities Hiking Club to explore the park. Located on State Line Road in the Town of Vestal, Jones Park is a beautiful, undeveloped, Town of Vestal park. An alarming proposal to log the larger, older trees within the park could cause considerable degradation, IF it is allowed to become reality. Wear sturdy footwear and be prepared for conditions. Carpool fee $2.00. Leader: Kathy Cronin 648-6240 or

Executive Committee Meetings are (usually) held on the Tuesday before each General Meeting at 7:30 pm (1211, 0108).

Climate Change

Chad Kister gave a presentation to a packed hall at Binghamton University on Arctic Melting on November 7. He addressed how Climate Change is destroying one of the world’s largest wilderness areas and what needs to be done to help solve the creeping disaster of climate change. The event was sponsored by the Binghamton University Environmental Studies Program, the Binghamton University Scholars Program, the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), and Susquehanna Group, Sierra Club. Two years ago, also at BU, Kister presented his concern over the threat of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). That threat has since been lessened as the result of a more pro-environment Congress, but there is still a need for legislation to further protect ANWR. Kister is the author of three books: Arctic Quest, Arctic Melting and Against All Odds, and is currently working an a fourth book.

Kister has been to the Arctic four times, the first in1991 when he was 21 years young. He recounted during his talk that the biggest obstacle he faced during his first visit was the lack of fish in the vicinity of Prudhoe Bay, due to pollution from the oil industry. He had counted on fish to help sustain him during his 90 day trip, and wasn’t able to catch any until he got within the boundaries of ANWR. During the initial three week period of his trip, he subsisted on berries, roots and greens to avoid starvation. Kister made friends with the Gw’ichin people, who have been living off the land in what is now ANWR for 30,000 years, and are reliant on the vast herds of caribou. The caribou are also directly threatened by rampant oil development.

Kister has seen first-hand the effects of climate change in the Arctic. He has personally recorded a 20 degree increase in average maximum summer temperatures over the span of 14 years in which he has been going there. He showed pictures of the reduction of the pack ice in the Arctic, which used to be 15-20 miles from shore. The polar bear and walrus are dependent on this pack ice as their hunting grounds. Because of climate change, the pack ice is now up to 300 miles from shore. Polar bears die from exhaustion when they are unable to make the long swim out to the ice. Studies predict the extinction of the polar bear could occur by 2050. A 154-page US Fish & Wildlife Service report on the status of polar bears was released in December 2006, after months of review by 12 independent reviewers and 10 peer reviewers. The report shows resoundingly why the polar bear must be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and proposes measures to give protection for the species, such as limitations on oil and gas development.

Earlier on Nov. 7, conservative French President Sarkozy speaking before the US Congress, also urged the U.S. to take the lead in the fight against global warming that threatens the destruction of our planet. He added that this fight is essential for the future of humanity and said we cannot achieve the results we must achieve without America leading the way. “Climate change is unquestionably the biggest issue of our time,” said Kister. “It will be the hardest thing we ever have to face.” On his web site he states, “The new Congress should work on the real priorities of the future: protecting our last wild places like the Arctic Refuge, and mandating the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, no matter Global Warming Bush’s wishes.” His presentation showed the critical need to immediately begin reducing fossil fuel emissions and replace them with solar, wind, efficiency and other renewable resources.


Logging in Jones Park

Dear Mr. Andreasen,

The Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club is opposed to any type of logging in Jones Park. Removal of the largest and oldest trees will despoil the park. Its purpose as a resource for recreation will not be enhanced, nor will the recreational experiences of its users.

The definition of park does not include extraction of natural resources. Jones Park was purchased and set aside as a natural area, not for its potential to produce timber revenue. The intrinsic value of the standing trees is far greater than any income produced by cutting down the oldest and largest trees. This income may be enticing to Vestal, but we feel that this method of earning it is both short term and short-sighted.
A rare “natural” park, Jones Park is shared and enjoyed by hikers, bikers, snowshoers, cross country skiers, dog walkers, bird watchers, and parents, introducing their children to nature and a love of the outdoors. These users appreciate Jones Park as a truly unique and beautiful recreational resource, and feel fortunate that it is so easily accessible.

Logging will unequivocally alter the character and landscape of this natural, wild park. Selective removal of the largest trees to allow growth of the younger ones is only appropriate for a tract of land that is managed for timber. Large trees, especially when they occur in a large, unbroken expanse, provide canopy and habitat for birds and other wildlife. These are the very trees that give Jones Park its special flavor. Logging operations and their detritus are far from aesthetic. Access roads and heavy equipment leave immense scars, unsightly slash and open spaces disfigure the landscape. Resulting silt leads to stream degradation. The operation is the sum of its parts, which will certainly add up to more than just cutting down a few large trees.

Management of every stand of timber that lies before us is not necessary or desirable. When that timber occurs in a public park, public comment certainly should be actively solicited prior to any decision making process.

Susquehanna Group, Sierra Club

Gleanings of Permaculture

Gleanings for all from the Oct. 6 '07 "On the Path to Sustainability: a Seminar on Permaculture".

The presenter, Albert Bates, an instructor at the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm (a community in Summertown, TN), laid out in grim detail, the peak-oil situation we all face today. Go to for much of the information he covered. Once we resolve to really acknowledge the problem, we can choose between a hard landing (continue on as is) or a soft landing: start (though I know you have already) to work for the development of a self-sufficient, sustainable community. To figure out where to start, we could check out the Ithaca Eco Village (a member of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas) or the Hancock Permaculture Center (Andrew Phillips is one of the seminar's prime movers). The New Society Publishers puts out a wealth of material at Our libraries could use encouragement to make this info available.
Once armed with our plan, let's go, let's do it!
Fiske Hanson

'Green' Reading

Request for 'Green' Book Recommendations

It has come to our attention that local library collections are lacking up-to-date information on books about sustainability, permaculture, climate change, energy efficiency, and 'green' literature, in general.

We are looking to improve this void by making recommendations to both the Finger Lakes Library System and the Four County Library System. Please share information about your favorite resources so that we can help to better educate the public as well as ourselves.
Send your recommendations to Colleen Wolpert at or share them at an upcoming Sierra Club meeting.

Thank you in advance,

Colleen Wolpert

Getting Informed

If you are not on our news listserv, you may be missing announcements about local events. Sometimes these come up on short notice, so there is no lead time to get them in the Newsletter, but we can inform all who are on the listserv. Lately, we have sent notices about the Chad Kister presentation, a rally against logging at Jones Park in Vestal, and a talk by noted author Carl McDaniel on sustainability: past and future. If you would like to be on the listserv, send an email to either Scott Lauffer or Erin Riddle, Once you have been added, you will receive emails from  To join our listservs, click here.

Sierra Club Websites

Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier - Binghamton - area): (you're there now)

Sierra Club 2008 Calendars
(our prices remain tax inc.):
Wilderness - list $12.95, our price $12.00. All the grandeur of the North American Wilderness.
Engagement - List $13.95, our price $13.00. Stunning images of Flora and Fauna.
Call Viv Stevens, 748-9865, to get your calendars, Proceeds support your local Sierra Club group.

Group Elections

Nominating Committee Report:
There will be no election this year for the group executive committee. The nominating committee selected only five candidates for five positions:
Returning are: Jeff Bohner, Julian Shepherd, Erin Riddle, and Vivian Stevens.
Deanna France will replace Cindy Westerman, who is retiring from the ExCom after many years of valuable contributions.
Dave Ketchum, Bylaws reader

This page last updated December 22, 2007