Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dick Weber Memorial

R.J. "Dick" Weber, who passed away peacefully on February 22, 2012, was an easy going, affable supporter of our White Pine Group attending several outings and Turkey Dinner Fundraisers over the years. Our first "record" of his active participation was his signing in at a Swiss Valley Service Trip on October 19, 2002. Dick had fond feelings toward Swiss Valley because it was under a Sycamore tree near the entrance to the picnic grounds off Swiss Valley Road that he proposed to Kathleen.

In memory of Dick, our White Pine Group EXCOM made a donation of $50 toward the $100 needed to purchase a picnic table memorial to help replace all the tables lost during the late July flood last year. Another donor completed the other $50 to assure proper White Pine Group memorial designation for Dick. Kathleen reported that at least two other tables were donated in Dick's behalf, and one by her family is to be placed near the Sycamore tree where their engagement took place. :)

A note received from Gerda Preston Hartman for the Friends of the Dubuque County Conservation Board dated March 7, 2012, reads: "To the White Pine Sierra Group we want to say thank you for the $50 donation in Dick Weber's memorial. We will put his name on a table in his honor. We were busy building our first 48 tables last weekend and will build another 48 soon thanks to all the donations we have been receiving." Signed: "Your friends in recreation."

A personal note from Kathleen, Steve, and Jay Weber reads, "Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I love the donation of a picnic table! (and so would Dick.)" Indeed he would.

Watch for the next picnic table building session and join in as an active memorial on Dick's behalf.

Newsletter Mailings

Recently, the newsletter has been mailed to members whose membership expired during the previous few months, thinking that the non-renewal may have been an oversight and that the newsletter might be a means to nudge renewal. The Club is very efficient on promptly dropping names of expired members from the mailing labels it provides for newsletter usage once a year if membership has not been renewed. We understand that economics and varying viewpoints on matters regarding the impact of Earth's human civilizations vs. planet Earth's environment can also affect renewal decisions. It is disappointing to lose members and we can't help but wonder if any specific matter may have caused a non-renewal. Anyway, we hope you will understand our motivation if you should still happen to receive a newsletter after a deliberate non-renewal.

Another mailing issue relates to newsletters returned due to "Temporarily Away" notices. We mail the newsletters as a reduced bulk mailing rate which does not accommodate forwarding to a winter or other temporary address. The return is marked, now, with 45 cents due. To re-mail it First Class would be another 45 cents. So, a 26 cent mailing could rise to $1.16. We may opt to do that for some more active members we know, but usually the returned newsletters get lost in the shuffle. So, we also hope that members who are "temporarily away" will not be offended if a newsletter is not received.

Currently, parts of the newsletter produced as Word documents can be e-mailed. Other physically cut-and-paste parts are not kept in a Word document format. Plus, we do not have e-mail addresses for all members--usually just for new members who have given it on their membership enrollment form. Send us an e-mail address and Needle items can be e-mailed.

UIU To Screen "Red Gold", Documentary on Alaska Salmon Threatened by Proposed Mine

FAYETTE, IA (March 17, 2012)--Upper Iowa University will offer a screening of the award-winning documentary, "Red Gold," which takes viewers to Bristol Bay, Alaska, the location of the most productive Sockeye salmon rivers in the world. The area is also the location for a proposed open pit gold and copper mine, Pebble Mine, which would be the largest in the world.

The one-hour film shares the views and lives of commercial fishermen, Alaskan natives, and sports fishing guides who rely on the Sockeye salmon to make a living and who are trying to protect the watershed. Mineral exploration of the area began in 1986, with the first drilling in 1988. The mining proposal has triggered significant controversy that continues, with the EPA beginning its scientific assessment in February 2011 to look at the possible impact of large-scale mining activities. "Red Gold", which received the "Director's Choice award for Best Documentary" at the 2008 Telluride Mountain Film Festival, was produced by Felt Soul Media and Trout Unlimited Alaska. "This has been the most important thing I've ever done in my life," said co-director Ben Knight when accepting the award.

UIU will screen the documentary in a program from 3:30 to 5:30 PM on Thursday, March 29, in the Liberal Arts Auditorium. Admission is free. The screening includes a question-and-answer session with three men from Bristol Bay, who have more than 100 years combined experience working in the Bristol Bay area. Jeff Skrade, a native of Prairie du Chien, Wis., migrated to Alaska in 1970 where he worked as a full-time fishery biologist for the state of Alaska and an area management biologist in Bristol Bay. Since retirement, he works seasonally as the fleet manager for Peter Pan Seafoods in Dillingham, Alaska. Curtis Olson is a native of Broadus, Mont., and is a commercial fisherman, rancher and auctioneer with 30 years of experience in Bristol Bay. His children and grandchildren are all fishermen in the Bay area. Dave Egdorf resides in Hardin, Mont., and is a fishing guide in Alaska during the summers. He has worked in Southwest Alaska for more than 30 years.

"This film profiles an important environmental issue," said Dr. Katherine McCarville, associate professor of geosciences, who organized the screening at UIU. "The film features beautiful photography and really digs into the issues surrounding the potential development of the Pebble Mine."

McCarville noted that the UIU event will conclude with an auction of Alaska salmon.

For more information, contact Dr. McCarville at 563-425-5233 (

Breaking News

Oceanographer Robert Ballard will be speaking at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville on March 28. This is a free lecture on Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM in the Williams Field House. Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic and many deep sea wrecks and biological features. He has connections to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium through Coastal America and NOAA, and the Smithsonian.

Group Program/Meetings

Our Group's 4th Tuesday Program/Meetings take place in the former parsonage of St. Peter Lutheran Church, 3200 Asbury Road, Dubuque. The large meeting room is at the back of that red brick home on the right as you enter the church parking lot from Asbury Road. The meeting room door is to the left of the big window of the meeting room. No steps, so easily accessible. Programs begin at 7 PM. A brief EXCOM session follows the program. The general public is always welcome. Mark your Sierra Calendar and catch a program.

Tuesday, March 27 (reminder)
John Muir Trail Scenic Access Routes over Bishop Pass (11,972 ft) and Piute Pass (11,423 ft.)
South Lake trailhead; Saddle Rock and Bishop Lakes; stonewalled switchbacks ascended by kayak-carrying fellows planning to kayak down the Middle Fork of King's River; Bishop Pass; Dusy Basin lake sunset camp; descend along waterfalls and smooth slopes of Dusy Branch of Middle Fork King's River; meet non-kayak carrying fellow coming back out after his kayak had gotten smashed right away; junction with John Muir Trail; Muir Hut; Sapphire and Evolution Lakes; South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Junction with and steep ascent along Piute Creek; no-water trail-ledge camp; "Iowa Hawkeye embryos"; Pilot Knob; Hutchison Meadow; Humphrey's Basin 11,000 ft. high camp sunset; frozen surface in bucket of water; Summit Lake; Piute Pass; Piute Lake; North Lake Trailhead.
August 2010, Dick Worm

Tuesday, April 24
2011 Little Turkey, Turkey, and Volga Rivers
9th Annual Project AWARE River Clean-Up (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition), July 9-16
See the mating damsel flies; piles of river trash and recyclables; historic towns and Opera House; project logistics; river scenery; certificate awarded to "Northeast Iowa Sierra Club--White Pine Group" for sponsorship contribution and ice cream; recognition on the Project t-shirt, 88 miles, 429 total participants; 32.36 tons of material collected (96% recycled including 611 tires!)
Dick Worm and Jim Fahrion

Tuesday, May 22
Dubuque Food Co-op
Targeted for opening by October 1, the Dubuque Food Co-op will be located on Dubuque's Historic Millwork District on the corner of 9th and Washington Streets. The goal is to have 20% of the inventory come from within a 90-mile radius from local producers, farmers, and growers of fruits and vegetables, eggs and milk, and cheeses and meats. Some featured products include "organically and humanely raised meats" and "natural household and personal care products."
Katie Giannakouros will present details.

No Program/Meetings in June and July

Saturday, August 18
Potluck Picnic and Autumn Calendar Planning Meeting at Echo Valley Pond at Dick and Jane Worm's Faraway Farm. Grills and a campfire for bring-your-own items will be fired up at noon. Bring a vegetable, salad, or dessert to share; and your own beverages, lawn chair, insect repellent, sunscreen, and other usual picnic paraphernalia. Come early and/or stay late for hikes to Mississippi River bluff and shoreline, woodland, and prairie areas on maintained trails; for pond swimming, fishing, and/or canoeing; and for other camaraderie. Camping Friday and/or Saturday night at various locales on this 150-acre Conservation Easement Private Preserve is also an option. New this year, as an alternative, but still primitive, in-door picnic and camping facility, is an all-weather, maintenance and educational-component building ("Benglari") with a warming room. Its landscaping and internal completion will be a work-in-progress for several years to come but the building, amazingly, went up during this mild winter. So, August 18 can serve as Benglari's unofficial Grand Opening, of sorts.

Directions: 6 miles south of Dubuque, on US 52, turn east onto St. Catherine Road at Lombardi's; go 2 miles to the Echo Hills sign; turn left onto Echo Hills Drive; proceed down the gravel lane in the center of the fork in the black-topped Drive; continue straight down over a cattle guard and through an open metal gate to "Benglari" and parking above the pond. Walk down to the pond.

Please RSVP for further directions and other logistical suggestions and details.
P.S. Bring activity ideas, too.

Spring/Summer 2012 Group Outings and Other Events

Outing participants are to ALWAYS RSVP to the designated Outing CONTACT no later than the night before an outing begins for updates and participation plans. Occasionally, an outing may be revised or canceled depending on the nature and number of RSVPs. Participants are also to sign a liability waiver, a copy of which can be previewed at . Non-members may also participate. Many Outings include options. Explore and Enjoy as YOU like! :)

March 29, Thursday
Pre-"Red Gold" Movie Outing
Our Sierra Group was contacted by Dr. Katherine McCarville about co-sponsoring a "Red Gold" movie program after hearing about it at the Iowa Conservation Education Conference in early February. Therefore, we are giving this program timely coverage in our newsletter. Since many of us are "free-as-a-bird", so to speak, we are offering an outing to explore parts of our Northeast Iowa domain earlier that same day. Here goes:

Meet at about 10:30 AM at Echo Valley State Park near the eastern edge of West Union on Echo Valley Road. (Carpool at 8:30 AM from Dubuque, or from along the way by RSVP CONTACT, by meeting at the Menards Parking Lot just west of Dubuque. Route will be US 20 past Dyersville/Manchester/Masonville; north on IA 187 past Lamont/Arlington; then north on IA 150 past Fayette to West Union.) At Echo Valley SP, make a further plan: like maybe hike there; and/or visit Gilbertson Conservation Education Area; or go to the Thelman Wildlife Area or the Wildwood Nature Center (anyone know anything about these two?); or visit the Upper Iowa University Geology Department. Bring or plan on a quick-stop lunch. Attend the 3:30-5:30 program. Have dinner somewhere in Fayette. Return to the Menard's parking lot near Dubuque.


April 28, Saturday
Ram-Hoffman Hollow Wildlife Area Trek
Meet at 9:30 AM at the Area parking lot lcoated a short way to the right where Voyager Road/Hubbard St. reaches the Little Turkey River trout stream 2 miles east out of Colesburg. Or, carpool from Asbury HyVee lot across from Culver's at 8:30 AM. Will explore the separate Unit to the southwest on a tributary of the Little Turkey. Bring snacks or a lunch and beverage and other normal hiking aids.


May 6, Sunday
Whitewater Canyon Trek
Meet at 12:30 PM at the Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Area parking lot. (Follow signs from US 151 at County Rd D-53 located about 1.5 miles southwest of the Sundown Road intersection or 1 mile northeast of Fillmore County Park golf course. Visit the Lost Canyon "Valley of Caves", the old CCC Dam, woodland/prairies, and scenic overlook.

RSVP CONTACT: Gary Thompson

May 12, Saturday
Catfish Creek Clean-Up, Mines of Spain
Meet at 9 AM at the Canoe Launch on Mines of Spain Rd on southeast edge of Dubuque. Bring your own canoe/kayak/PFD; or RSVP for canoe provision; OR, as importantly, plan to walk the shoreline. Bring gloves, insect repellent, sturdy shoes, long-legged pants (nettles). Finish by noon; or bring a lunch and help sort and clean recyclables there or at the stockpiled stash at Dick Worm's Faraway Farm's "Benglari."


May 26, Saturday
Denny Garcia Cave Concert at Natural Gait's Ion Exchange near Marquette
Meal at 6:30 / Concert at 7:30, $30.00
Reservations required: 563-535-7314 or 877-776-2208 or

Check or for directions and details. The unique concert setting is a long, bluff-face cave reached by a steep, rope assisted trail. Snacks and beverages are sold at the cave during the concert. The acoustics are awesome! Make a day of it by meeting at the Ion Exchange cave concert trailhead site at 1 PM for hikes on Yellow River SF and/or Natural Gait trails.


June 2 - 3, Saturday - Sunday
Float Trip and Camping on the North Fork Maquoketa River
This kayak/canoe float trip will go from Dyersville to Cascade with overnight, vehicle accessible camping at a private cabin just south of Worthington. Meet in Dyersville at 9:15 AM at 3rd Ave. SE and 1st St. SW, 2 blocks southeast of the Cathedral at a city ball park, for a 9:30 AM shuttle to the cabin site of vehicles and camping gear, including trailer campers; or meet there in Dyersville at 10 AM with your kayak or canoe to begin the 5-6 hour, 9-mile float to the cabin (from where a shuttle could return you to your vehicle in Dyersville.) A first day halfway point start is possible at a bridge about 2 miles west on the graveled Rockville Rd. located off IA Rt. 136 about 3 miles south of US 20 or 2 miles north of Worthington.

Bring all your own food and camping gear. However, during your RSVP to Bill, you MIGHT learn that he will prepare some Dutch Oven meal items. Directions to the Don and Annette Evens cabin, if individually needed, can be obtained from Bill. Also, double check with Bill regarding the nature of the "good lane" trailer camping access.

Sunday's continuation of the trip will go to just north of Cascade and end with a Class 1 rapids... which could get you wet!

This trip is featured in the new edition of Paddle Iowa. A route map can be obtained in advance from Bill or at the start of the trip.

RSVP CONTACT: Bill Jamison

June 23, Saturday
National Wildlife Federation's "Great American Backyard Campout"
If you would like to participate and need a big backyard, you would be welcome to primitive camp at any one of a variety of locations at Dick and Jane Worm's Faraway Farm that Friday and/or Saturday night. Camping location options include: on the pond's dam; at one of a variety of sites on the Mississippi River bluff; on the edge of a prairie; or in the woods. Dick even has a variety of tents that could be made available. Bring some loppers and Dick could also aim you toward some easy to find invading Autumn Olive bushes that you could lop away on to your heart's content! :)

Contact Dick Worm by June 7 (or after June 18).

July 7 - 14, Saturday - Saturday
10th Annual Project AWARE River Clean-up: Iowa River from Dows to Marshalltown
For information about Iowa's national award-winning river clean-up project and to register for the 2012 Project AWARE, visit the web site . Over 90 miles of the Iowa River in central Iowa will be the benefactor.

You need not have your own canoe (which will hold more debris than a kayak) because canoes will be provided as needed. the only cost to a participant is the option for utilizing catered meals. Camping gear is shuttled from campsite to campsiste along the route at no charge. A shuttle service between the beginning point and end is available. Participants can spend from one day to the entire week on the project. Evening programs provide interesting and entertaining opportunities throughout the trip.

Come to our April 24 program/meeting to learn more from those of us who have participated for the full week in as many as 6 of the past 9 yearly events.