Thursday, March 10, 2011

Editorial Comment

Dick Worm

I am a dues-paying member of most of the mainstream environmental-conservation organizations that exist, be they national or local; about 36, according to my contribution notebook. So, one can easily imagine the heat radiating from my computer lately with all the pleas for support, be it monetary or for a letter, e-mail, or petition regarding the current legislative debacle in Iowa and Washington, D.C., as the purging and misdirection go on.

We DO need to get the spending under control but what got us into this economic mess? Mostly the wealthy with a distaste for taxation and paying fair salaries and the ploy of Weapons of Mass Destruction (and our enemy on THAT front is winning--as our economy is being decimated as we fight roadside and suicidal will-o-the-wisps as well as our nation's idiotic lust for illegal drugs.)

Anyway, we would cut education and lament our low standing in the world--made obvious by the mindless rhetoric coming from the mouths of some of our politicians and their ditto-heads. I seldom agree with George Will, but his "Flaky Faction Foils Republicans" column in the March 7 Dubuque Telegraph-Herald was right on regarding the "careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons." Take THAT, EIB network.

While abortion is not the best way to curb unwanted and unneeded births, responsible family planning and pregnancy prevention ARE. Where are the Right-To-Lifers for the world's abused, starving, sickened, and jobless and the wildlife being exterminated to make way for "human" overpopulation and egotistical greed? Stay on top of it all!

Dubuque's Sustainable Challenge Game

Register for the Sustainable 7 Game after March 17 at and attribute your game play to the Sierra Club and you and the club could both win big>

Each week, complete 7 sustainable tasks and take part in at least one weekly event listed in the Telegraph-Herald or on-line with Dubuque 2 to become prize eligible. Play on!

Single-Use Plastic Bags

In September 2010, the Dubuque Environmental Stewardship Advisory Commission voted to recommend that Dubuque encourage retailers not to use petroleum-based plastic bags at the checkout and that the city adopt a policy of eliminating/minimizing the use of plastic bags through various incentives, with the ultimate goal of eliminating retail bags by 2014.

On September 7, 2010, the Dubuque City Council voted to approve eliminating the use of plastic bags by 2014 and directed city staff to work out a plan for achieving this.

City staff conducted research and met with grocers and retailers. Options are now being explored. During a March 6, 2011 meeting, the staff will share with local community environmental "stakeholder" organizations the research on what other communities have done and the retailers' perspective and will seek further insight for plastic bag reduction.

Public understanding and cooperation will be needed. To assist on that front:

Bag It, the movie; free showing
Mindframe Theater, 555 JFK Road (behind Kennedy Mall)
Mark your calendars and plan to attend one of two FREE showings of the movie Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (65 min.) The film takes an in-depth look at our cultural love affair with plastics, especially plastic bags, asking such questions as: Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? (See the synopsis below.) It will be shown at Mindframe Theater, 555 JFK Rd. on two consecutive Saturdays, March 26 and April 2. Doors open at 9:30 AM with the movie rolling in at 10:00 AM.

Admission is first come, first served, and FREE through the generosity of several local co-sponsors: Mindframe Theater; Wahlert High School's SAVE Club (Students Against Violating the Earth); the Inter-Congregational Ecological Working Group; Green Dubuque; the White Pine Group of Sierra Club; Keep Dubuque County Clean & Green; and Dubuque County Conservation Society. Attendance at either of these showings qualifies as an entry in Dubuque's Sustainability Challenge Game (visit for details). Also, thanks to Green Dubuque, one rain barrel will be given away as a door prize at each showing.

Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes, disposable bags that they throw away without much thought. But where is "away"? Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to the environment, marine life and human health? Bag It follows "everyman" Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics. Jeb's journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions. What he learns quickly grows far beyond plastic bags.

Bag It focuses on plastic as it relates to our society's culture of convenience, our consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging, and our throw away mentality when there really is no more "away".

You make every day Earth Day when you support environmentally conscious products & services.


March 22, 2011
April 28, 2011
May 24, 2011

Mark your calendar and come on out! Presenters put together programs to educate and entertain. Explore and Enjoy with them.

White Pine Group Program/Meetings are held at St. Peter Lutheran Church, 3200 Asbury Road, Dubuque. The meeting room is a spacious lounge immediately inside the main entrance. No steps, so easily accessible. Meetings begin with the Program at 7 PM. An EXCOM business meeting follows. Meetings are on the 4th Tuesday. (None in June, July, and December; August has a picnic meeting.)

March 22
Jim and Loretta Fahrion visited Hawaii in early February 2011; Oahu's Pearl Harbor and Polynesian Culture Center; Maui's Road to Hana, Haleakala Volcano before the clouds moved in, and the green Iao Valley; Big Island's Volcanos National Park and Northeast and Kona Coasts.

April 26
Mount Whitney
On August 11, 2010, from 3:15 AM until 7:45 PM, Dick Worm did the 22-mile round trip to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48 at 14,497 feet, ascending 6137 feet along the way. Not often you'll "see a pig" near 14,000 feet... in the U.S., anyway. The Whitney Portal Route up from Lone Pine, CA, is within the John Muir Wilderness. John Muir's (Sierra) birthday is April 21. A "belated" birthday cake will help us celebrate the occasion--as well as Earth Day, April 22.

May 24
Namekagon River, Wisconsin
From October 16-20, Dick Worm canoed Wisconsin's Namekagon River, part of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. Holly Johnson, of the Eagle View (Quad City) Sierra Club Group, also canoed the 28.5 miles from Hayward to the Namekagon Visitor Center in Trego and provided a shuttle ride. Dick, then, soloed the 39.5 miles on to Riverside Landing on the St. Croix River. Not often you'll "see Big Foot" along the Namekagon. What a "fun guy". Other "observations" and fungi complete the story of this pleasant trip.

August 27
Saturday Picnic and Autumn Planning
--at Dick and Jane Worm's Faraway Farm/Echo Valley Pond in Echo Hills, along the Mississippi River. Morning hike and fishing options at 9 AM. Potluck picnic grills will be fired up at 12 noon. Afternoon hikes, swimming, Autumn Olive and honeysuckle eradication, as well as Friday and/or Saturday night camping, fires, and night hikes are other options. Bring your own beverages and all the regular outdoor picnic and camping supplies for being in the woods in August! Camp on pond's dam or at more remote bluff sites. RSVP to Dick or Jane Worm.

Other Events of Interest
What are calendars for? Mess 'em up!

Saturday March 19 Environmental Film Fest 6
Olin Hall, 733 35th St., Augustana College, Rock Island
10 AM - 6 PM. Free movies:
10:30 Carbon Nation
12:15 Living Downstream
1:50 Bag It
3:20 Tapped (water)
4:50 Truck Farm
Healthy snacks all day. Kathryn Allen, Eagle View Group/Sierra Club.

Sunday March 20 "Salute to Songbirds: Exhibit Open House
Program, 1PM; bird hike after; Swiss Valley

Wednesday March 23 "Sustainability Expo"
11 AM - 1 PM
Alumni Hall Ballroom, Loras College, Dubuque

Saturday April 16 Port of Dubuque Earth Day Clean-Up
10 AM - Noon, Ice Harbor park, gear provided, snacks and refreshments afterward, RSVP contact: Vicky Sutter

Friday - Wednesday May 6-11 Superior Hiking Trail Association Programs
Programs Saturday; then hikes (Eagle Mountain, MN highest; Caribou Rock Trail). Hike-in camp at Benson Lake in Crosby-Manitou State Park. Dick Worm.

White Pine 2011 Outings

Outing participants are expected to sign a liability waiver, a copy of which can be previewed at . RSVP to Outings Chair Jim Fahrion, Editor Dick Worm, or the designated Outing contact person for details and participation plans. Outings often include options. Explore & Enjoy as YOU like!

March 13 (Sunday)
Keough Indian Mounds Hike (postponed from December 11)
Charlie Winterwood will lead this short hike located between East Dubuque and Galena. Meet in Dubuque at 1 PM at the north end of the Hy-Vee parking lot off South Locust St. to carpool to the site. Contact: Charlie.

April 30 (Saturday)
Mississippi Palisades Spring Wildflower Hike
Charlie Winterwood will lead this State Park hike near Savanna, Illinois. Meet in Dubuque in at 9 AM, again at the north end of the Hy-Vee parking lot off South Locust to carpool to the site. Contact: Charlie.

May 14 (Saturday)
National Rivers, Catfish Creek Clean-up
Begin 9 AM at the canoe launch in the Mines of Spain. Canoe and kayak use and shoreline and road/parking lot walks will take place. May expand the area covered as participation level deems. Bring your own gloves. Walkers should wear long pants (nettles) and sturdy shoes. Insect repellent is advisable.

This will be an event of "Dubuque's Sustainability Challenge Game" so participation will be greater and the city will provide a lunch following the clean-up. An RSVP IS NECESSARY for the lunch count and if you wish to have a canoe provided for your use. Contact: Jim Fahrion.

June 3-5 (Friday night - Sunday)
Volga River Canoe/Kayak Outing
Optional camping Friday night at the Volga River State Recreation Area just northeast of Fayette. Otherwise meet by 10 AM on Saturday at the camping area where decisions regarding the river sections to float will be made for Saturday and Sunday.

Canoe options include M Ave. to Volga River State Recreation Area (12.1 miles); on to Heron Road totals 14.4 miles; and on to Wadena totals 21.4 miles. Wadena to Birch Road is not described in "Paddling Iowa". Birch Road to Volga City is 2.5 miles; and then another 6.8 miles to Osborne. (Osborne to Littleport is a scenic 9.4 miles and is the stretch that Project AWARE will clean up on Saturday, July 16.) Littleport on to Garber is about 10 miles.

Bring your own river and camping food but Dutch Oven creations by Bill may very well be available at breakfasts and dinner. RSVP contact: Bill Jamison.

Speaking of Bill Jamison and Dutch Ovens, Bill was asked by NICC to offer a class on Dutch Oven Cooking. The class is scheduled twice at Swiss Valley PARK... on the north side of Swiss Valley Road (at the picnic area, not at the Nature Center) from 10-12 on April 30 and May 21. Cost is $15. Register via NICC by phoning 563-556-5110. The class will include: How to Choose a Dutch Oven (types will be described) and How to Season, Cook with, and Store a Dutch Oven. Wood heat will also be given attention. Check details with Bill. WHAT'S COOKIN' WITH BILL!

July 9-16 (Saturday - Sunday)
Project AWARE on the Little Turkey, Turkey, and Volga Rivers
For details, go to . Camping will be at Gouldsburg Park (2), Gilbertson Conservation Education Area (2), Elkader City Park, Motor Mill, and Osborne Outdoor Education Center Park. Evening programs may include our own Larry Stone. (Check his website at .)

Our region's popular "Big Blue Sky" may perform in Elkader. Our White Pine Group will be a "River Rescue" level sponsor donating $125 ($75 plus a donor's $50) and will provide ice cream as an in-kind, hot weather treat contribution one evening. Anyone wish to help with that? Contact: Dick Worm.

Other Events of Note
Natural Gait Cave Concerts
May 21, Celtic, "Switchback"
June 11, Big Blue Sky
July 30, Sawtooth Bluegrass Band
August 19, Switchback

Live Eagle Nest Camera, 24/7

Earth Jam with the Banana Slug String Band!

White Pine Group/Sierra Club display

A free family event! The Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency, Keep Dubuque County Clean & Green, and E. B. Lyons Interpretive Center are sponsoring the 2011 Earth Jam featuring the entertaining and conservation oriented songs by the 2-person Banana Slug String Band.

The Earth Jam will begin at the Mines of Spain's E. B. Lyons Interpretive Center at 5:30 PM on Friday, April 15. Displays and children's activities will be from 5:30 PM to 6:45 PM. The Banana Slug String Band will perform at 7 PM.

The purpose of the Earth Jam is to educate, inspire, and have entire families participate in making responsible decisions for planet Earth. The event will educate the public through booths and hands-on children's activities. The Banana Slug String band will present environmental message through high energy songs and musical performances! Community environmental partners, including the White Pine Group of the Sierra Club, will provide the displays and activities.

I will check on some children's activities for April 15. I also have collected some recycled bags; from the Phillipines I have one made from newspaper (which was promoted through Sierra magazine) and one made from juice box wrappers which are folded. I have a purse from Uganda made from colorful rolled paper and a woven purse Bill brought from Tanzania. From a woman in Monticello, I have 2 purses and a rug made by crocheting yarn with strips of the traditional plastic trash bags. My students have made purses and shopping bags from juice wrappers and could make up a couple to give away as a required service project.

Western Loop Plans

July 27 - August 17 or 18

Any parts are open for participation. Check with Dick Worm for more detail about the following ways to Explore and Enjoy.

July 27 - 31 or August 1

Creede Repertory Theater--July 28, 29, 30 ("Unnecessary Farce", "I Capture the Castle", "Boomtown Comedy Improv", "How to Succeed in Business", and "Road to Mecca"); acclimatization/scenic hikes on July 29 and forenoon of July 30, with a July 31 or August 1 attempt to scale Fourteener Mount Sneffels (14,150 ft) near Ouray. (Anyone not going to California would leave after Sneffels.)

California Sierras
August 1 - 9 or 10

Leave from Colorado August 1 for a John Muir Trail backpack trek August 3 - 9/10. A permit has been obtained for 8 people to backpack from Devil's Postpile National Monument northwestward to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, with a side trip to the Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Californians are also being invited to do this portion of the Western Lop. More details can be provided.

However, a lottery drawing has also been submitted for 6 people for a JMT trek from Whitney Portal northward to Onion Valley and, if drawn, would receive primary consideration, leaving the other permit available. Although I day-hiked the Whitney Portal route to Mount Whitney and back last summer (attend the program at the April 26 meeting for that and other JMT details), my cohort for these JMT trips did not, and the only option still available this summer was the Whitney Portal entry permit by lottery. This southernmost section of the John Muir Trail includes the JMT's highest pass, Forester Pass (13,180 feet). The lottery drawing is sometime around March 15.

Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains
August 10 - 17

--To try again for my now bucket-listed "The Arrowhead". This could extend to August 18 or no later than a noon August 19 return to Iowa. Bill Jamison is considering this Idaho option if he gets a travel companion(s).

Meet August 12 near Stanley, ID to backpack from a 6760 ft. trailhead to Hell Roaring Lake (7407 feet) and then ascend a steep, unofficial trail to scenic Clarice Lake (8180 ft.) to base camp two or no more than four nights, for me anyway, depending on conditions to reach "The Arrowhead".

One day-hike/scramble option during the potential August 13, 14, and 15 stay WILL BE "The Arrowhead" (10,579 ft.), passing the ominous "Finger of Fate" spire before the near vertical, ought-to-be-awesome view of the Cramer Lakes Basin, 2200 feet below.

Other treks from relatively small Clarice Lake (so its island is an easy swim away) may include views of Profile Lake, Mount Cramer (10,716 ft), Sevy Peak and other peaks, lakes and waterfalls. Exit via the same route on August 16 to begin the drive homeward, arriving late on August 17, at the earliest.

Other options for some folks may include only a day-hike to Clarice Lake skipping The Arrowhead and backpacking on to Imogene Lake from Hell Roaring to possibly camp on an "island" to enjoy an easier day-hike up a lake- and waterfall-strewn valley, apparently popular for fishing.

Iowa Environmental Council

From Iowa Environmental Council's web site:

You can open this as a PDF file at

If Enacted, Bill Would Cripple Iowa's Air Quality Program

To cover budget shortfalls and keep a federally mandated state air quality program operating, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has recommended increasing emissions fees charged to all facilities that are major sources of air pollution, but lawmakers have introduced a bill in an attempt to block that from happening.

House File 402 would cap the per-ton emissions fees charged to big emitters of air pollutants under Title V of the federal Clear Air Act at their current rate. The bill also forbids the use of some potential sources of revenue that could help offset the emissions-based loss of income, such as charging fees for new-construction permits.

Currently, fees are based on the first 4,000 tons of emissions for each covered pollutant and are used to cover the cost of operating this air program at the DNR. A process to revise the fee system was approved by the Environmental Protection Commission in January and is underway at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Lee Searles, air quality program director for the non-profit Iowa Environmental Council, said the impacts of HF 402 would be felt as soon as July and could result in the loss of 23 jobs that are high-quality professional jobs in engineering, permit review, monitor evaluation and analysis, small business support, and community support services.

"Business and industry interests in Iowa seem to support House File 402, even though it would probably make Iowa's air quality programs fall out of compliance with federal Clean Air Act requirements. That could lead to a loss of our state-friendly program and its replacement by federal agency authority," said Searles.

Action Alert: e-mail to your legislators, asking them to vote "NO" on this bill.
For Questions: Lee Searles, 515-244-1194 ext 204,

Question for Governor Branstad: "Why Transfer Department of Natural Resource's Water Quality Programs to the Iowa Department of Agriculture?"

The Iowa Environmental Council is opposing measures to move Iowa‘s water quality programs from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Legislators say these Senate and House bills have come at the request of the Governor and say this is because water quality programming can be done "more efficiently" if given to the Secretary of Agriculture.

"I have seen no study or assessment that shows this move will create efficiencies, save money or continue to provide protections for our water quality," said Marian Riggs Gelb, executive director for the Iowa Environmental Council.

Riggs Gelb also noted that no other U.S. Governor has abdicated his or her water quality protection responsibilities to an elected official.

"Why does Governor Branstad want to do this? Where is the explanation or study or data that demonstrates the efficiencies? I think the public would like to have the answers to these questions," said Riggs Gelb.

Rules previous promulgated under the DNR programs being transferred would have to be reviewed and possibly rescinded and their rule making processes begun again by IDALS--processes that could take years and cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additional staff would have to be added to IDALS as they do not currently have the expertise on staff to conduct the programs.

Bill numbers are currently being assigned to these study bills, which passed out of Senate and House Committees last week. Sign up to receive Action Alerts on this and other bills at the Council's Action Alert center where we make it easy for you to contact your elected officials.

Proposed Legislation Fast Tracks New Nuclear in Iowa

The Iowa House and Senate are moving quickly on legislation to promote new nuclear power in Iowa. Identical bill language has been introduced in the House (HSB 124) and Senate (SSB 1144). The legislation would require MidAmerican Energy to submit an application to build a new nuclear reactor and would provide extensive special treatment for nuclear power, including the following partial list:
  • Allows MidAmerican to raise rates to pay for the plant during the application and construction process;
  • Exempts nuclear power from the "reasonable alternative" planning and review process that applies to all other forms of electrical generation;
  • Allows MidAmerican to keep all the money it gets from increased rates, even if the company never builds the plant;
  • Constrains how the regulators at the Iowa Utilities Board, and the courts, can review MidAmerican's proposed nuclear plant.
One of the concerns about this legislation is that it creates such favorable policy for new nuclear power that it will disadvantage clean energy, including wind, solar, and energy efficiency. Iowa has made great progress realizing the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy in recent years, but there remains great untapped potential, if we can stay focused and advance the right mix of energy policy.

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

March 3, 2011

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

In this era of Congressional budget-slashing, with programs that actually benefit real people on the chopping block, we think it's time to step up the demands:

Tell Congress, and our Iowa Legislators, not only must it oppose new taxpayer subsidies for new reactor construction, but Congress must cut the existing program to zero!

And the good news today is that the American people agree! According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News public opinion poll released this morning, cutting subsidies for new reactors is the single most popular possible budget cut, with 57% finding such cuts either completely or mostly acceptable.

The existing Department of Energy loan "guarantee" program has $10.2 Billion in unspent money for new reactor construction and another $2 Billion for uranium enrichment plants. Why should Congress be cutting programs like legal services for the poor, public broadcasting, college loans, and dozens of other programs when that money is sitting there and should never be used anyway?

In the sometimes make-believe world of Congressional budgeting, that funding actually only shows up as $120 million--but that's still a lot of money that could be spent on much more important things. The reality is, since these nuclear loan "guarantees" are actual loans from the federal treasury--make-believe budgeting or not--that's more than $12 Billion that would be going out the door, with far too much risk that it would never be seen again. And, of course, President Obama (what is he thinking?) wants to increase the nuclear loan program by another $36 Billion in next year's budget!

National Club Election Coming This Spring

One candidate is from the Upper Midwest.

The annual election for the Club's Board of Directors is now underway. The Sierra Club is unique among major national environmental organizations in its emphasis on democratic election of leaders. Those eligible to vote in the national Sierra Club election will receive in the mail (or by Internet if you chose the electronic delivery option) your national Sierra Club ballot. This will include information on the candidates and where you can find additional information on the Club's website.

The Sierra Club is a democratically structured organization at all levels. The Club requires the regular flow of views on policy and priorities from its grass roots membership in order to function well. Generally, voting has now dropped to about 10% of those receiving a ballot. This is an alarming trend for democracy within the Club. It is also discouraging considering the major commitment the Club makes in financial, staff, and volunteer resources to provide the opportunity for all members to vote each year.

Steve Krieg,
Chief Inspector of Election
Tuesday February 15, 2011

White Pine Group EXCOM, 2011

Charlie Winterwood, Chair
Jim Fahrion, Outings
Dick Worm, Newsletter/Membership
Barb Cooey
Gary Thompson

Appointed Officers:
Secretary/Turkey Dinner Fundraiser: Jane Worm
Treasurer: Mike Muir
Conservation: Gretel Winterwood
Publicity: Carol Thompson
Webmaster: Todd Michaels (Local help wanted!)

2011 EXCOM Election

Candidates Charlie, Dick, and Gary were... uhmm, overwhelmingly elected. No write-in could muster any votes. We thank Bill Jamison for his terms of service to the EXCOM and his continuing assistance with outings. Consider offering your voice this December when yet another EXCOM election will be the center of heated controversy and tummy turning excitement as one candidate after one candidate are sought from among the minions.

Winter Outing Reports

To "Explore and Enjoy" ought to be significant aspects of active Sierra Club membership. Our group offers outings to foster aesthetics. Reports describe what might also encourage actions to "Protect".

Backbone Cabin Outing
January 28-30
18 participants including more than the usual number of 2-night stays; and contributions of clementines by Holly, "health food" dessert by Buck, grapes by David, and homemade bread by John, that were recorded, helped create an outing profit of $117.90 . Another $20 general donation from an expiring member raised the recent income to $137.90 . THANKS--it's going toward the Bag It movie screening fee and a sponsorship contribution to Project Aware.

Whitewater Canyon Outing
February 12
Deep, clumpy snow and a cool breeze didn't keep over 16 folks away... and the clusters of ghostly stalactites of ice near one cave's entrance added some haunting mystique to the snowshoe and x-country ski trekking.

Some Coming Events of Note

Bag It: The Movie
Saturdays, March 26 and April 2
10 AM
Mindframe Theater, Dubuque
Our White Pine Group contributed $100 toward the $300 screening fee.

Earth Jam and Banana Slug String Band
Friday, April 15
5:30 PM activity, 7 PM band performance
Lyons Center, Mines of Spain

We will have a display and activity. Come/Enjoy!

Earth Day
April 22
Do some good for the environment this Good Friday. Make an Earth Day resolution sustaining Mother Earth.