Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Calendar of Events

Please mark these events onto your handy wall calendar.

March 5, Sunday
Outing: Eagle Roosting Site and adjoining 330 acres near Hopkinton. Meet at Hempstead High Parking Lot at noon, or at the lane leading south to Hardscrabble Park at 1:00 PM just across the Maquoketa River bridge, west of Hopkinton on County Road D47.

This property, owned by White Pine Group member John Stone, is south of Hardscrabble Park and includes Maquoketa River shoreline, wooded bluffs, and fields. A small in-holding owned by another person threatens the quality of the roosting area if opened to the public for snowmobiling. We will learn of the issues associated with access to and use of this property.

For more information, contact Dick Worm.

March 10, Friday
Hike Dick and Jane Worm's Faraway Farm Conservation Easement property, 150 acres along the Mississippi River, with Jill Daniel, as she conducts the annual monitoring of the easement agreement. Learn about "easements" and join in on discussions of prairie restoration, invading plant removal, and other plans as we walk the property.

Phone Dick Worm for the time to begin (either late AM or early PM), yet to be confirmed, and for directions to 3680 Echo Hills, 2 miles east of US 52 South on St. Catherine Rd.

March 12, Sunday
Mines of Spain program at E.B. Lyons Nature Center, 1:30 PM, "Caves and Mines", Ruby Pruszco

March 13, Monday
Program/Meeting: Hempstead High School Auditorium, South Pod; enter at Moody Gym entrance and continue straight past gym to auditorium entrances (3715 Pennsylvania Ave., Dubuque). 7 PM: Sierra Society Youth meeting.

7:30 PM, Public Program: "Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro Canyon State Parks, North Texas". These parks were featured in the May 1999 Backpacker, Magazine of Wilderness Travel special edition featuring a "Central Hiking Guide". These two were included in the South Central section. Dick Worm will show slides, photo album pictures, and maps from his October sunrise, sunset, and perfect weather hikes there on the way home from "Top of Texas" Sierra Club Service Trip. (The same magazine also featured Yellow River State Forest, Iowa, in its Upper Midwest Section.)

8:15 PM, White Pine Group meeting. Discuss local, state, and national election endorsements, etc.

March 15 - April 1
Dick Worm travels to Arizona for the Sierra Club's Kanab Creek Trail Maintenance Service Trip backpacking around Jumpup Pt. into N. rim wilderness canyons, Also plans hikes at Crazy Jug Pt., Mt. Humphrey's, Mund's Mt. Wilderness, Wilson Mountain, etc.

March 26, Sunday
Mines of Spain program at E. B. Lyons Nature Center, 1:30 PM, "Building a Prairie", Clarke College Science Education.

April 8, Saturday
Group outing: Mossy Glen State Preserve. Meet at Rupp Hollow Road, Heritage Trail Parking Lot at 9 AM, or at Bixby State Preserve just north out of Edgewood at 10 AM. Mossy Glen is just northwest of Bixby, where we may also hike some later. Bring a lunch and beverage for the day. Return to Dubuque by 4 PM. Phone Charlie Winterwood for more information.

April 10, Monday
Program/Meeting: Hempstead Science Learning Center, C-270. (Not auditorium). Use Flagpole Circle Drive Entrance using doors to the left of the gated open entry to the courtyard. Go up one flight of stairs, follow long hall westward to the meeting room on the left.

7 PM: Sierra Society Youth meeting.

7:30 PM, Public Program: "John Muir: The Man, The Poet, The Legacy", 50-minute video, as seen on PBS. Slides and print photos that Dick Worm took this past summer at the John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, California, and at Muir Woods National Monument and Muir Beach will also be shown.

8:40 PM: White Pine Group Meeting. Decide election endorsements, consider Earth Day event options, and other matters.

April 22, Saturday: Earth Day 2000
(Middle of Easter vacation, but do what you can to remember the day. Attend our March and April meetings to help consider some appropriate action.)

May 6, Saturday
Group outing: French Creek Wildlife Management Area/Hog Confinement issue tour. Walk along the trout stream and get a sense of the setting as related to the nearby confinement. See the update in the recently received Spring 2000 Sierran. Meet at Hempstead at 8 AM, or at French Creek about 10 AM.

French Creek is located about 7 miles west of Lansing on IA 9, then north on a road near Churchtown. There is a sign on IA 9 showing where to turn north. Or, maybe the sign I once saw was at French Creek Road, about 4 miles further west; or, at Road X20, a blacktop, about another mile west (or about 4-5 miles northwest of Waukon at Lycurgus where there is a church), then proceed north on X20 about three miles to a poorly marked Ebner Drive where you turn right (east). If the X20 blacktop has turned to gravel, you have gone too far. Go about 1.6 miles east on Ebner Dr., and turn left at the bottom of a steep hill onto French Creek Drive. It is about 1 mile to the primitive campground on the left. That is where we will try to meet. There is a trail from the campground to the stream. The confinement area is on eastward on French Creek Drive, up a steep hill, then another 0.5 mile. (Hope my Gazetteer is sort of close!)

Later May 6 - 7 (Saturday - Sunday)
Outing continues: After visiting French Creek, we plan to continue on up into Minnesota to camp and bicycle. We may drive up to Beaver Creek Valley State Park near Caledonia off Rt. 76 in Minnesota; then, continue on to Rushford, where we may drop off one vehicle at the east end of the Root River Trail. Then, drive scenic route 16 west to Preston and on to Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park where we will camp. Try to visit the cave or bicycle a short branch of Root River Trail that begins at Fountain as time in the day permits. Bring your own food for camping or plan to eat in Preston or Lanesboro or some such to help local economies..

We would plan to bicycle from Preston to Rushford on Sunday. Return to Dubuque by 4-5 PM.

May 8, Monday
Program/Meeting: Hempstead High Science Learning Center, C-270 (not auditorium). Enter via Flagpole Drive entry, etc. as described for the April 10 meeting. Signs will be posted.

7 PM: Sierra Society Youth meeting.

7:30 PM, Public Program: "Oklahoma's Black Mesa and New Mexico's Valley of Fires and Capitan Mountains Wilderness". Slides and album photos from Dick Worm's hikes on his way to the October "Top of Texas" Sierra Club Service Trip.

Black Mesa is "The Top of Oklahoma" at 4973 feet. Valley of Fires is a National Recreation Area of volcanic lava flows. El Capitan Mountain at 10,083 ft. is the highest peak in the Capitan Mountains Wilderness near Capitan, N. M. and Smokey the Bear National Historic Site. The hike up El Capitan was on a clear, deep-blue-sky sort of day with golden aspen scattered among the green pine. Come and EXPLORE.

8:15: Group meeting.

More Spring/Summer Calendar 2000

June 2000
No meetings/outings.

July 2000
No meetings/outings. However, if you or anyone you know might be interested in going on a backpack trip into the South San Juan Wilderness just southwest of Alamosa, Colorado, contact Dick Worm.

The idea is as follows: Since Dick MAY be helping with a national Sierra Club outing in that same wilderness from July 23-29 because of his past experience in that wilderness in 1991 and 1997, he is planning to lead a trip for local Sierra Society youth and adults into the same area, backpacking from July 16-21. Jim Fahrion, White Pine Group past Chair, who helped lead the 1997 youth outing there; Mike Marty, Hempstead Science Dept. Chair, who has helped lead many previous youth outings the last being in 1996; and 2 or 3 other adults and one college-age youth are interested, if dates and such work out. DIck is willing to take anyone interested in such an adventure.

Plan is to leave Dubuque on July 14, camp in Kansas, and get to Alamosa on the 15th, camping at the local KOA. Dick's vans and Sierra Society's trailer could be used, or other private vehicles. Dick might take his car so he could stay there with it while others return to Iowa after the backpacking.

Backpacking would begin on July 16th from a trailhead just north of the Conejos Campground on the Conejos River on a Forest Service Road south of Platoro Reservoir. (This is straight west of La Jara on U.S. 285. Conejos Peak, 13,172 ft., which is also shown on my Rand McNally and State Farm Road Atlases, would be one of our day-hike objectives.)

At the trailhead, we may have to wade across a spring run-off overflow channel in order to get to the bridge that crosses the main channel of the Conejos River. We would then backpack westward, upstream along the south fork of the Conejos less than 5 miles wading a couple of tributary streams to camp at the mouth of Canon Verde. Elevation gain is only from 8960 ft. to 9600 ft. A good little hike to help with the acclimatization to altitude. There is a little swimming hole upstream in Canon Verde and a nice ridge to scramble up at this campsite.

On July 17th we would continue 5 mi. upstream along the south fork, past the mouth of Canon Rincon (which we backpacked down in 1997), and on up on new trail to me within about one mile of Blue Lake which sits right on the continental divide. We would camp at about 11,200 ft. still on the s. fork. The last part of this trail seems to be the steepest and ascends through forested terrain. We could take a hike over to Blue Lake that evening or the next morning. (Blue Lake is a prime objective on this trip as Dick has not been to it before.)

July 18th, we would backpack on up along the S. Fork northeastward about 3.5 miles to its source, the 12,000 ft. Glacier Lake. Here, we could leave our packs, and day-hike on up to the summit of Conejos Peak. It is a pretty gentle climb of another 1172 ft. stretched out over about 3 miles. Afternoon storms are common so we'd want an early start that day. We would return to Glacier Lake, descend a fairly steep slope (maybe do dome snow sliding) to the upper end of Canon Rincon and camp near Twin Lakes at about 11,680 ft. Camp here two nights.

July 19th, a day of rest; or hike up Conejos Peak if not done due to weather or whatever yesterday; or dayhike down slope about 2 miles south to the 11,335 ft., Timber Lake which sits on the edge of a narrow ridge between Canon Rincon and Hansen Creek. It is a really neat scene with the west end of the lake very near a 880 ft. almost vertical drop to Hansen Creek. A windswept desert-like landscape of volcanic rock and pinnacles on the edge of the ridge add to the unique setting. Continuing past the lake another mile could provide a look down into the S. Fork Canyon we had come in on about 1200 ft. below. Another interesting scramble from the west end of the western-most Twin Lake is up to a camel-shaped rock pinnacle eroded out of volcanic breccia (boulders fused together). Lots of other weirdly shaped pinnacles also dot that slope.

July 20th, backpack eastward past the south face of Conejos Peak on nearly level terrain looping northward around the heads of Hansen Creek and Canon Bonito to the Conejos Trail for about 4.5 miles. Usually see elk in this region. Maybe drop packs and ramble up a slope to a 12,555 ft. vista down onto Bear Lake about 1000 ft. below. The trail begins to descend now towards Roaring Gulch. Camp at the base of a steep section of trail at about 11,600 ft. after another 1-2 miles. Could hike from camp over to a 12,105 foot vista down onto Bear Lake again to watch the sun set.

July 21, backpack 5 mi. southeast down to trailhead. Camp at Alamosa KOA, again.

July 22-23: Drive back to Iowa.

August 19, Saturday
Group Potluck Picnic at Dick and Jane Worm's Faraway Farm, noon.

Grills will be provided. Bring your own meat to grill, a dish to share, utensils, etc. Jane may provide a cake as it is Dick's birthday on the 19th. Bring lawn chairs. Picnic tables are in the shelters.

Come early to fish, swim, and/or canoe in the pond and/or hike to the Mississippi River or on the numerous trails through forest and fields, to the Big Bluestream Prairie Grass site; along the Mississippi Bluffs, and to the high ridge. Find sink holes, fossils, fern covered rock faces, etc. And/or all are welcome to do the same after the picnic, also.

A Group EXCOM meeting to plan Fall calendar will be held after lunch. Stay for an evening campfire. Gate will open at 8 AM and stay open until whenever. Camp for the night, if you'd like.

There is a small shelter close to the parking area and a large shelter at the pond. Four canoes, paddles, life jackets, and a flat bottom boat will be available. A variety of tents can also be made available for anyone wanting to camp out but has no tent.

Insect repellant may be a wise accessory but Deep Woods Off will be available. Off trail wanderers may encounter poison ivy.

Campers may camp on the dam at the pond near the shelter, outhouse, and fire ring; at at a couple of bluff top locations (one with a nearby outhouse and fire ring), or at a remote location by the gully at the far southeast corner of the property. All these sites are on mowed grass. There is also a mowed site by the old stone foundation on the high ridge top. It is on the same level as the Echo Hills Lane and can be easily hiked to from Dick and Jane's house.

Faraway Farm is located 2 miles east on St. Catherine Road from US 52, 6 miles south of Dubuque city limits. Turn left at the Echo Hills sign and take the center lane down onto gravel, over a cattle guard, straight through a gate, and down to the parking areas above the pond.

Winter Outings Report

On January 22, five of us tried out our cross country skis on the Pony Hollow Trail just east of Elkader. The trail was pretty flat so I only fell down about three times on my new skis. And we only had to dodge snowmobiles twice. A nice stream runs along the trail adding to the scenic values. First time out so good testing of the groin muscles! Stiff and sore.

We enjoyed lunch at the Keystone Cafe in Elkader overlooking the Turkey River. A large hawk sat in the snow on the deck railing for quite a while adding to our pleasure.

I had to miss the Feb. 19 outing to Yellow River Forest but Charlie Winterwood and I got in some more skiing on Faraway Farm and on a Jackson County Trail on old railroad bed along the Maquoketa River southwest from County Road Z34 north of Preston to Spragueville. This 3.8 mile trail provides nice vistas of the meandering Maquoketa, has shelters and tables, and geologic time markers put in place by a Preston elementary school class. A hamburger, raspberry shake, and Citra at a cafe in Spragueville rounded out that morning outing.

The Faraway Farm ski trails are a lot less flat. The lane down the southeast (right) side of the ridge to the fields got down to being only a two-faller for me. A wee bit fast for my meager skills. Once onto the fields on the bench above the river bluffs, the going was better, peacefully serene, and scenic with views toward Galena across the Mississippi River Valley. Lots of deer tracks on the trails and evidence of turkey scratching. Good exercise. But, this summer, I will mow the trails with less sharp turns and angle down slopes rather than go straight down where ever possible. Those 90 degree turns at the bottom of the slopes at the edges of the fields overlooking the river were a little brutal!!! Tailbone brakes worked well and did not create serious tailbone breaks.

By building bridges across a couple of gullies, there will be about a half mile of nearly level trail along the river bluff. Nice project to work on over the next couple of years.

The Feb. 14 Sierra Club slide show on the "Battle for the Everglades" was very good.

Action Needed to Protect Everglades and Biscayne National Parks and the Coral Reef!

The Clinton/Gore Administration is considering allowing a major commercial airport to be built on the edge of two national parks - Biscayne and Everglades.

The proposed airport at Homestead, Florida, lies just 1.5 miles from Biscayne national Park and 8.5 miles from Everglades National Park and next to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It would be the largest commercial airport next to a national park in the United States, hosting 236,000 flights per year in its first phase... that's a plane every few minutes.

The Administration is also considering a commercial space port at the site, which would pose similar noise, water and air pollution problems.

Please immediately phone and e-mail Vice President Al Gore's office with the following message:
I (and/or Sierra Club your chapter) urge(s) the Clinton/Gore Administration to protect Everglades and Biscayne National Parks by NOT conveying the former Homestead Air Force Base for commercial aviation or space port uses. Such uses will cause unacceptable, permanent impacts to two of America's treasured national parks as well as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The Everglades, once a wide, slow moving river, also suffers due to damming, diverting, draining, and urban sprawl.

Iowans Fear Bush Record on Factory Farm Pollution

Des Moines, IA - The Sierra Club today called on Texas Governor George W. Bush to take action to stop water pollution caused by manure from factory farms in Texas. Livestock operations in Texas generate twice as much manure as the second-leading state, and the Bush Administration made it much easier to build new factory farms in Texas. Iowans are very concerned about Gov. Bush's record on factory farm pollution because they also suffer from significant contamination from Hawkeye state operations.

"Animal manure from factory farms poses a growing threat to Texas' drinking water, streams, lakes and groundwater," said Ken Kramer, director of the Lone Star Chapter (Texas) of Sierra Club. "Instead of encouraging more factory farms in Texas, Governor Bush should stop existing operations from polluting our water, and place a moratorium on new factory farms."

"Factory farms that soil rivers, streams, and drinking water are an unfortunately familiar sight and smell here in Iowa, too," said Steve Veysey from Iowa Sierra Club. "Because of Iowa's problems, we are very concerned about Gov. Bush's poor record on factory farm pollution to support our efforts to clean up Iowa by advocating a moratorium on new operations."

Factory farms are large chicken, pig, cattle or dairy farms that house thousands of animals in relatively small confines. These animals produce billions of pounds of manure, and cause water pollution when the large volume of manure the operations apply to the land runs off into rivers and streams, contaminating the water with bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus. Texas livestock operations produce 220 billion pounds of manure annually, twice as much as the second leading state, California. Manure runoff, along with other sources of pollution, contributes to making 27 percent of Texas' waters unfit for swimming. In addition, factory farms generate unbearable odors that can cause illness and drive residents indoors.

Near Perryton, Texas, for example, where Texas Farms, Inc. has grown to 249,000 hogs in the last two years, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission denied neighbors an opportunity to participate in a hearing on the facility's permit. Now the odors from the hog operation cause neighbors to suffer from nausea and headaches and even prevent them from opening their windows on the evening, according to Donnie Dendy, President of ACCORD AG, a group of small family farmers and ranchers interested in protecting the environment.

"Governor Bush and the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission have streamlined the process to remove public involvement and the right to know," said Dendy, a lifelong area resident and farmer. "Gov. Bush and the TNRCC have turned a deaf ear to rural residents."

"These factory farms are driving family livestock farmers out of business," noted Kramer. "Stronger protections to make sure that factory farms protect the environment will level the playing field for smaller livestock operations."