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.

Other Important Events

March 31, Saturday
Swiss Valley Road Clean-Up from US 20 - the Nature Center
Meet at Nature Center, 10 AM. Bring gloves, repellent, water, dress appropriately for the weather. (Keep Dubuque County Clean and Green, KDCCG).

At 8:30 PM, join the World Wildlife Federation in turning off your lights for an hour! Your Low Energy Lights, at that! ;)

April 14, Saturday
"Earth Day Every Day Event"
10 AM at Asbury Hy-Vee.
Learn about Dubuque's sustainability efforts from coordinator Cori Burbach; then the movie "Bag It" will present, with humor, the shocking truth about the impact of throw away plastic. (KDCCG)

April 14, Saturday
Help Clean Up Burton's Furnace Road
Volunteers age 18 and older are needed to take part in the cleanup of this "illegal dump" along this now closed road. Volunteers are to register by calling the Swiss Valley Nature Center at 563-556-6745. Meet at the Durango Heritage Trail parking lot at 9 AM. Lunch will be provided for registered volunteers and the cleanup will end at 3 PM. Wear sturdy gloves! Half day is okay. (DCCB, KDCCG, and DMASWA)

April 22, Monday
"Earth Jam" at E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, Mines of Spain
Youth Activity. 5:30; Conservation entertainer, Tom Pease, at 6:45.
*Sierra a sponsor.

More Opportunity

March 25, Sunday, 1PM
"Geocaching 101"
E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center. Learn about this real-world outdoor treasure hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices to locate hidden geocaches. An outdoor portion of the one hour program will demonstrate a hunt. Dress accordingly. Our White Pine Group has offered geocaching outings... so get ready! :) Natural "geocaches" are unique examples of Mother Nature's treasures for you to discover.

April 21, Saturday, 10 AM - Noon
"Port of Dubuque Clean-Up"
Register by phoning the national Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. 563-557-9545. Come rain or shine; lunch provided.

May 4 - 8, Friday - Tuesday
Travel with Dick Worm to the Superior Hiking Trail Association Annual Meeting at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, Finland, MN. A Silent Auction begins Friday evening at 6 PM, followed by a program at 7:30: "A Superior Dream: Kayaking Around the Largest Lake in the World." Dick camps economically at a walk-in site on the shore of Benson Lake in the nearby Crosby-Manitou State Park, but lodging is available at Wolf Ridge.

Saturday's options include guided hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail and presentations: "Hiking and Birding in Costa Rica"; "A Walking Tour of Croatia"; "Hiking Ontario's Casque Isle Trail: 30 Miles of Gorgeous Rugged Trail"; "Hiking the Stunning Kalalau Trail on Kauai In Hawaii"; "Hiking and Rafting in the Grand Canyon"; and the after dinner climax, "Full Circle--A Walk Around the Greatest of the Great Lakes".

On Sunday at 9 AM there is a Superior Hiking Trail maintenance project constructing 250 feet of boardwalk near Wolf Ridge; and another guided hike at 10 AM. Meals can be purchased as part of registration, but Dick only purchases the Saturday lunch $6, and dinner $12, on top of the $15 registration fee. Dick also does additional hiking in the region on Sunday afternoon, Monday, and Tuesday forenoon before heading home. The SHT is a worthy endeavor providing excellent hiking opportunities in the Upper Midwest.

If interested, contact Dick Worm for program and registration details.

July 20 - 30, Friday - Monday
Backpack from July 22-28 a loop in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Montana, not far off I-90 west of Butte and southwest of Anaconda. Trail elevations range from 6120 feet to 9600 feet crossing the continental divide two times, over and back.  One long day (Day 3) will be followed by a layover day at Warren Lake. Other lake camps will include the Lower and Upper Carpp Lakes and Rainbow Lake. Warren Peak, 10,046 ft., and West Goat Peak, 10,793 ft. (highest in the Wilderness) will provide nearby tantalizing scrambling efforts.

Contact Dick Worm for logistical details.

August 20 - September 6
Backpaking on the John Muir Trail, California's Sierra Mountains
Dates are the maximum window available for 6-7 days of travel and 7-9 days of backpacking depending on permit yet to be obtained. Colorado's 14,269 ft. Mt. Antero and Creede, CO theater may enter the mix.

Contact Dick Worm. March 27 program: a taste of John Muir Trail!

Honor Someone Special This Earth Day

On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will participate in local Earth Day events to voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection. Celebrate, and help protect Iowa's natural resources, by honoring your own Earth Day Champion - a loved one who taught you to love the environment, a granddaughter in hopes she will know the natural beauty Iowa has to offer, your friend who reminds you to stop and smell the roses. You can honor them for just about anything.

"Mom and Dad, thank you for taking me camping, hiking at the Ledges, canoeing and everything else we did that fostered my love of the earth."

Donate $25 or more to Iowa Environmental Council’s efforts to protect our part of the earth and we'll email or mail a special Earth Day greeting with your personal message to your honoree.

"Mike, thank you for all the work you do to protect Iowa’s waters. You are an inspiration."

You can choose a printed card or, to save trees this Earth Day, you can choose to have an electronic version sent. Besides sending your tribute card, we won't use the information you provide to contact your honoree.

Make your gift by April 15 to ensure delivery of your card by Earth Day, April 22.

Using the Bible to Bend or to Beat (exceprts)

In light of the current campaigning for the responsibility to serve as President of the United States, the excerpts below from a Sermon given by Reverend Nancy Bickel at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Dubuque, on February 7, 2010, seem poignant. Mother Nature would also benefit from this wisdom.

Our problems today do not correlate directly to the problems of society in ancient times. Those that approach the Bible as primarily a rule book that clearly spells out the directives for every step of their lives or as some distant, magical answer to life's dilemmas do the Bible a great disservice.

Then why are there so many Christians all around the world who take the Bible and bend it to shape their own prejudices and intolerance... Why are there so many Christians who take the Bible and use it to beat up others... God's Word is too often used as a bludgeon to wield power over others, particularly the powerless for who Christ had a preference. One of Shakespeare's characters says, "the devil quotes scriptures for his own purposes." We, at times, have all been guilty of rummaging around in the Bible until we find some verse, take it out of its context and use it to make a point about what we believe rather than discerning God's truth. By doing so, we take one of God's good gifts to us and use it to further our own selfish, grandiose schemes... Those that write letters to the editor or those who write columns for religion pages who quote obscure Old Testament texts and totally ignore the Gospel and rarely make mention of Jesus claim to speak for the religious community but they certainly do not. They portray a God that is totally alien to most of us and they have no use for a Jesus who spent a great deal of his time with those who were often on the fringes of society and had nothing but compassion for those who were poor... We all draw upon our own histories, education, experiences, and imagination in order to try and grasp the meaning of Biblical texts but we must always remember that Scriptures were written in the languages of the people who spoke and wrote them, people who genuinely wanted not to give us a road map that would tell us how to take every single step in life, but rather a compass that keeps pointing us in the right direction, towards a God who wants to be in communion with each one of us.

Some, however, would act as they have some secret or special knowledge of the Bible, of which others are sorely lacking. There are still false prophets whose sole authority is their own ego.

White Pine Group EXCOM 2012

Charlie Winterwood

Jim Fahrion

Dick Worm

Jane Worm

Gary Thompson

Appointed officers
Secretary/Turkey Dinner Fundraiser
Jane Worm

Mike Muir

Gretel Winterwood

Carol Thompson

Todd Michaels


Membership as of March 9 was 388. Thanks to all who promptly renew memberships and WELCOME to all the NEW members.

We also receive a list of memberships that have expired, in this case updated through February, for whom we do not receive official mailing labels. We often send a newsletter, anyway, thinking renewal may have been an oversight. :)  If there is a specific reason for dropping a membership, we'd like to hear about it. Folks vary.

EXCOM for 2012 has Jane Worm fillin' a spot.

Winter 2012 Outing Reports

Outings provide opportunities to "Explore and Enjoy." And the camaraderie helps to pointedly prod us to, also, "Protect."

The January 27-29 Backbone Cabin Outing was greeted with a timely snowfall that made the skiing and snowshoeing conditions near perfect! An off-trail exploration led 13 of us to impressive overlooks. There was plenty of space to spread out for the 11 overnighters, including 3 from the Quad Cities and 1 from Iowa City. Alaine Jamison's menu preparation for Saturday's dinner was very much enjoyed! Past Iowa Chapter Chair Jerry Neff mastered the crevice slide. "Upwords" game was a tuffy!

The February 11 Yellow River State Forest Outing became an educational trek unofficially led by Sierra members and YRSF experts Larry and Betty Maslo of Waukon. Never before noticed features along the circuit north of Big Paint Creek came alive! An early evening trek to the Fire Tower included a sunset view from Cedar Point Overlook. The Lofty Haven "cabin" at the Natural Gait served as a mid-afternoon break and comfortable Friday and Saturday overnight accommodations.

Dave Hansen of Masonville, Jim Fahrion, and Dick Worm each made a bluebird house on March 17 between the two high border circuit hikes at Swiss Valley Park. Some minor trail work and fallen tree removal added a bit more satisfaction to scenes of the already blooming wildflowers and the heaps of gravel outwash along Catfish Creek from last year's flood. A crinoid fossil spotted among a zillions of the rocks was donated to the Nature Center.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Turkey Dinner Fundraiser Report

At least 86 meals were served at the October 29 Turkey Dinner Fundraiser. Additional donations ranging up to $100 totaled $245. Calendar sales also contributed to the income. Total income by that night was $1150. Submitted expenses for food and church social room/kitchen rental came to $200. With the calendar bill paid and the $131.73 balance before the dinner, the treasury after the dinner was $915.85. Additional calendar sales and contributions have since then raised the current balance to $1027.85. Thanks to all who helped make the Fundraiser another success. You know who you are!

In kind contributions that WE KNOW of included: Cooked Turkeys by Jane Worm and Winterwoods; Desserts by Mike Muir, Ellen O'Connell, Ann Ernst, Howard Higley, Sheila Schultz, Ruth Scharnau, Becky Reisch, Butchie Thompson, Dave Hansen, and Clayton Pederson; Door Prizes by Dick and Jane Worm, Margreet Ryan, Barb Cooey, Jack Rolling; Dressing by Jane Worm using Leslie and Kevin Kane's recipe; Mashed Potatoes by Alaine Jamison and Jane Worm; Friday set-up by Dick and Jane Worm, Jim Fahrion, and the Wayne McDermott family; and Saturday early help by Becky Reisch. Kitchen and Clean-up help by several volunteers also smoothed out the operation. Wayne and Aaron McDermott even helped clear the Faraway Farm river access trail on Saturday following the Friday night camp-out, before the Mississippi Trails Hiking Club arrived. :)

Additional support came from Lee and Carol McClenahan, James Ryan, and Ron Myrom. A later calendar order from Mary and Fritz Kruger of Manchester came with this note: "Sorry we missed the Turkey Dinner. Hope it was a success! Here is our donation for this year--and if there are any calendars left, send us one. We'll try to get in on one of the outings in 2012! We enjoy the newsletter!" (Editor: Our White Pine Sierra Group EXCOM really appreciates member feedback.)

Door prize recipients: Kathy McDermott whose entry was 422 for the 425 black and orange M&M's in the full jar then awarded to her... along with black and orange balloons :) . Aaron McDermott selected a sleeved blanket for his Bird Quiz entry. Ruth Scharnau's # was drawn for the Sierra Calendar. Prize selections were: Mystique blanket, Berna Davis; Walking stick, Janette Ramson; Sierra game, Bart Blake; Walking stick, Tom Welu; "Listen to the Land" book, Betty Streets; Compass, Larry Troester; Thermos, G. Wiederholt; Cap, Joe Garrity; Coozie, Tom Streets; and Duffel bag, Jan Ellen Zweibohmer.

Again, a BIG THANKS to all the Dinner attendees and contributors! The "Our Iowa Home" program introduced by Bob Dunne made us all feel right at home with all the camaraderie that evening!

Sierra Calendar sales? YES, 2 Wall and 5 Engagement 2012 calendars do remain. Any request with any $ contribution will be honored as the supply lasts! Come to Backbone Cabin Outing and ask for any calendar still remaining then, free. :)

Another Coal Plant Shuts Down

Pam Mackey-Taylor
Iowa Chapter, Sierra Club

John Deere Dubuque Works, a farm implement manufacturer in Dubuque, Iowa, has ceased burning coal.

In an order from the Iowa Utilities Board, the IUB stated that the plant's annual net generation was 31,496 MWh.

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board on December 22, 2011, John Deere stated it was ceasing the "use of coal-fired generation for several reasons including implications of the proposed MACT standards" that are to control the release of mercury and other hazardous pollutants.

Sinapee Cemetery/Chigger Outing 9/11/11

You wish you had explored?

From: Jim Fahrion
Sent: Tuesday, 9/13, 2011 6:55 PM
To: Gary & Butchie Thompson; Richard Worm; Dave Hansen
Subject: Latest count

Gary, we lost count after counting 132 chigger bites, so I've got your 100 beat.

- Itchy Jim

From: Richard Worm
Sent: Tuesday, 9/13, 2011 10:09 PM
To: Jim Fahrion
CC: Charles Winterwood; Margarite Reynolds; Dave Hansen; Gary & Butchie Thompson
Subject: RE: Latest count

I have no chigger bites at all! I had that blanket to sit on and had lightly sprayed my ankles, arms, shirt around my waist, and sides of my head and cap with Deep Woods OFF... maybe that helped. (I hate ticks so always try to think to take such precautions in the woods. I'm crawling around out here a lot lately in my prairie areas cutting down Autumn Olive so wanna be protected as best I can.)

Was wondering of Winterwoods and Margarite had any chigger issues, or if it was just an attack of those sitting around on the ground waiting for the sunset. Butchie and Gary were at the KDCCG meeting at 6 PM this evening--and Butchie had also been attacked--and I thought Gary said he had counted 150 spots on his chest, armpits and waist area. But who's counting... :) ?

What does a chigger look like? They must be tinier than ticks. I can recall having chigger attacks only two times in my life.

Chiggerless, this time,
- Dick

On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 8:02 AM, Margarite Reynolds wrote:

Hi, all. No chigger bites--I suppose I'd know by now. I don't think I'd even heard of chiggers till Dick's email. Have been reading about them online this morning. Not pleasant. Here is one website that was "interesting":

Wonder if it was something to do with time of day. I also do remember for some reason deciding to perch on the fence instead of sitting on the ground. But surely they can jump around...

Hope you all feel better soon.

- Margarite

From: Thompsons
Sent: Wednesday, 9/14, 2011 11:57 AM
To: Margarite Reynolds
CC: Jim Fahrion; Richard Worm; Charles Winterwood; Dave Hansen

Excellent chigger article, although it did creep me out a bit knowing hundreds of them were crawling all over us!

Despite the mites it was a beautiful and fun evening.

- Butchie

Winter 2012 White Pine Outings

Please mark your calendars

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

January 27-29
Backbone State Park Cabin Outing
RSVP: Dick Worm

Reservations are required for this outing by no later than Tuesday January 24, at or after our Group Program/Meeting.

Two 2-story heated cabins (#9 and #10), each with shower and restrooms, are reserved from Friday 4 PM through Sunday 11 AM. One double-bed bedroom, one two-person futon, and four "floor spaces" are still available for at least 10 more participants for both nights and a single bed for Friday night. (Suggested total capacity is 22.)

Lodging cost is $20/person for one night; $30/person for both nights. Five RSVP meals are provided in Cabin #9 at $4/meal beginning with dinner Friday and ending with Sunday breakfast. X-country ski, snowshoe, hiking, and crevice slide treks are planned. Indoor table games and general camaraderie fill the other times amazingly well. Day-Use is available at $5/person and $4/meal.

To receive a complete listing of logistics and activity options by e-mail, mail, or phone, contact Dick Worm. Join the fun--an Iowa WINTER has now arrived!

February 11 (Saturday)
Yellow River State Forest Outing
RSVP: Jim Fahrion

X-country ski, snowshoe, and hiking options will be organized at this premier location in our Northeast Iowa Sierra Club Group area.

To carpool from Dubuque, meet at the south end of the Asbury Hy-Vee at 9 AM. Otherwise, meet at the State Forest headquarters parking lot on County Road B-25 between IA Route 76 and Harper's Ferry at 10:30 AM. Bring a day-pack, lunch, and beverage, and the outing will last as long as participants wish to stay.

See natural gait trails, cabin day-use, and overnight stay options:

February 10, 11, 12
Natural Gait Cabin Overnight Bargain offer for Yellow River State Forest Outing!!
Contact: Dick Worm

Dick has wanted to stay in one of the Natural Gait cabin facilities next to a unit of the Yellow River State Forest. So when a "Buy One Night, Get One Free" Cyber Monday offer was in a Natural Gait e-mail, he took it for the already scheduled Yellow River State Forest Outing weekend. So, here's the deal:

The Upper Gait cabin available that Feb. 10-12 weekend happened to be the Lofty Haven, which best fits "privacy" needs with two bedrooms on the main level and a ladder access loft with one more double bed (and four twin beds.) Sleeping accommodations limit is 10. The Lofty Haven is located next to the lodge/horse riding arena and loftily above the Shower House/Laundry and Mercantile Gift Shop, not up the hill with the other cabins and campground. Check-in is after 2 PM Friday with check-out by 11 AM Sunday. Directions to Lofty Haven:

The Lofty Haven is fully stocked with a complete kitchen (range/oven, refrigerator, microwave, utensils, coffee pot, cookware), vaulted living room with a couch and recliner, wood burning stove, full bath (whirlpool tub, sink, toilet), towels and linens (pillows). Just bring your own food.

Three couples (or six individuals) can stay for both Friday and Saturday nights at a cost of $35/person. A single night stay will be $25. Additional overnight participants could stay if lofty folks were willing to share (ear plugs?) the loft's five bed space. If participation could be arranged for more than 6 occupants, the cost of overnight stays would be reduced accordingly. If fewer than 6 people stay overnight, the above rates will stay the same and Dick will cover the rest. (He says it's worth giving this cabin stay a shot even if he might be the ONLY overnight participant! That would not be a first. :-/ )

A $10.00/person Lofty Haven & Trail Access fee for those not staying overnight would cover SF and Natural Gait trail access & warming, restroom, and meal location comfort. Food and beverage would be "bring-your-own", but some snacks and card tables and chairs for games and meals, if needed, will be provided like at the Backbone Cabin Outing. If figuring gets too complicated, and "profit" will go to the White Pine Group treasury.

March 17 (Saturday)
Swiss Valley Nature Center/Park Service Project and Bluebird Program
RSVP: Dick Worm for project details closer to the date of this outing.

Either come to Dubuque County's Swiss Valley Park at 8 AM for a 2-hour service project and then attend the Bluebird Program including making your own bluebird house; or attend the 10 AM Bluebird Program, bring your own lunch, and stay for a 1-3 PM Service Project--or do it all from 8 AM-3 PM.

Registration is required for the Bluebird Program and house building: (563) 556-6745. The Service Projects may involve trail work and/or sign placement... or snowshoeing?

Group Programs/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 to 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, January 24
"Alberta Tar Sands"
Raki Giannokouros of Green Dubuque

Tuesday, February 28
"Eagle Point Scholar"
Will include local aspects.

Tuesday, March 27
"Bishop Pass and Piute Pass Access to the John Muir Trail in California's Sierra Mountains"
August, 2010
11,972 ft and 11, 423 ft
Dick Worm

Other Events

January 29 (Sunday)
"The Wild Brazil" by Dr. Jim Pease
Head for the Swiss Valley Nature Center after the Backbone Cabin Outing for this 1 PM Dubuque County Conservation Society's FRIENDS program, featuring the remarkable biodiversity of northeast Brazil, the Amazon, and the Pantanal wetland.

Sunday Progams, Mines of Spain

E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center
1 PM

January 22
"A Wildlife Photo Safari in Tanzania", Alice and John Butler
The Serengeti Plain's "Great Migration" and a Masai village.

February 12
"An Organic Approach to Sustainable Farming"

February 26
"Forest Gliders--A Glimpse into the World of Flying Squirrels"

March 11
"Geology of Northeast Iowa"

March 25
to be determined
office: (563) 556-0620

Hunting at the Mines of Spain: Public Meeting

Monday January 30, 6:30 PM
EB Lyons Center

The DNR will discuss and gather input on a proposal to discontinue shotgun hunting in Mines of Spain.

Archery hunting for deer, turkey, and all other legal species would continue. Since 1991, hunting has been allowed in the park during specific seasons and has helped manage and control the deer population of the area.

While the deer population has steadily decreased, park use for other activities has increased, including winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching, photography, and other winter activities. The park hosts more than 250,000 visitors annually.

Location: just south of Dubuque, off Hwy 52 South

Written comments will also be accepted:
8991 Bellevue Heights
Dubuque, IA 52002-9214

Or, via e-mail:

Nature Centers

Hurstville Interpretive Center
Jackson County
(563) 652-3783

Osborne Nature Center
Clayton County, Hwy 13, South of Elkader
(563) 245-1516

Summer 2012 Loco Folks Trip Previews

Dick Worm is planning a couple of summer Loco Folks backpack trips. Fellow travelers are welcome! Check with Dick for details.

July 20-30: Backpack, July 22-28. Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Montana, on continental divide.

7 days on John Muir Trail in California. Travel date options dependent on permit success may be: 08/26-09/07; 09/09-21 (priority), 09/16-28. Que Sera!

Keystone XL Emergency--Risking the Wild

Dick Worm, Needle Editor

I received the following e-mail from an acquaintance who worked at the John Deere plant in Dubuque and still has citizenship in Canada. It was sent as a reply to a Wilderness Society item I e-mailed to him about the Keystone XL pipeline.

Plan to attend our Sierra program on January 24 for additional viewpoints and concerns related to the extraction and refining of this oil, dating back to 1978. I'll bring the June 2008 Canadian Geographic magazine to the meeting.

The oil-sand extraction article was title "Scar Sands" and describes five ways to begin to reduce the environmental imprint: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), dry tailings instead of wet, reducing overall water usage, clamping down on acidifying emissions, and establishing large areas of boreal forest to be off-limits. Is all that a "fat chance" in today's politically charged energy domain?

The Wilderness Society message dated December 19, 2011 included the following:
The Keystone XL pipeline is probably the single most environmentally destructive project in North America threatening millions of trees and thousands of miles of rivers, lakes and streams as it snakes its way across the nation's heartland.

This rider abets clear-cutting the forests, strip-mining the tar sands, clearing a right-of-way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and emitting massive amounts of carbon pollution, all so that a Canadian oil company can get a higher price on the world market for oil than it is currently getting from North America alone. The fact that the payroll tax cut for American families has been held hostage to this environmental train wreck is unbelievable.

If this pipeline gets approved, it will foster climate change conditions that will threaten every aspect of America's wild places. Our national forests, already threatened by climate-related fire and beetle infestations, will become dangerously stressed. Iconic places like Glacier National Park will lose its namesake glaciers, and places like Acadia and the Everglades will be even more threatened by rising seas.

The President still has the discretion to turn down Keystone XL. If he does, he will be siding with millions of Americans that have a right to clean air, safe drinking water, a safe climate and a clean energy alternative to digging more holes that we can't get out of.

Subject: Re: Keystone XL Emergency--Risking the Wild

Well, this issue gives me mixed feelings.

On the plus side, it does make jobs, and good paying jobs, to a lot of people. It provides a market for Deere and Hitachi as they supply some of the machines used to mine the tar sands, and to build the pipelines. And that helps support my pension.

The oils extracted supply the fuel and lubricants for those machines, and all our cars and trucks, asphalt for the roads you drive on, etc.

As to the pipeline to the gulf: I don't understand the reasoning. The oil from the tar sands is very heavy (viscous) and take extraordinary means to make it flow through pipes. That long pipeline will probably have to be heated all the way. Seems to me it would be better to build the refinery in Alberta and pipe the finished products. Maybe that is what they're doing, to some extent.

The actual strip mining operation IS making a huge mess of the tundra. But the oil is there; near the surface, instead of deep in the ground like in ND, TX, OK, etc.

What would you do? I think we need to reduce our total consumption of oil by developing other sources of energy. And by driving the most fuel efficient cars we can.

I'll bring you a copy of Canadian Geographic magazine that covers the Tar Sands operation.

- Wayne Collins

More on the Energy Front

From: Congressman Bruce Braley
Subject: Clean Energy for Iowa
December 22, 2011

I am writing to give an update on the work I have been doing this Congress to promote Iowa's wind industry, which is a major growth area for the state.

Iowa is first in the nation in per-capita wind energy production, and second nationally in total annual wind energy production in megawatt-hours. According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, the Iowa wind energy industry already employs over 3000 full-time workers. That number could grow with a more certain investment climate for the wind energy.

In November, I introduced the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act. This bill will extend the wind energy production tax credit or another four years. Without Congressional action, the existing wind energy production tax credit will expire at the end of 2012.

Additionally, I sent a letter to House Leadership asking that the wind tax credit be passed in time so that investment in Iowa's wind energy sector won't slow down. The earlier this extension takes place, the more certainty there is for those who want to invest in wind and its future. I will continue to work to get this extension passed sooner rather than later.

Wind is a clean, renewable energy source that can also help improve Iowa's economy, and I will continue working to expand the use of wind energy in America.


Bruce Braley,
Member of Congress

National Club Election Coming This Spring

Steve Krieg, Chief Inspector of the Election

The annual election for the Club's Board of Directors is now underway. In early March those eligible to vote will be receiving their National Club ballot in the mail or via the Internet if they selected the electronic option. This will include information on the candidates and where you can find additional information on the Club's web site.

The Sierra Club is unique among major national environmental organizations in its emphasis on democratic election of leaders. Some 25,000 members have signed up to receive voting materials via e-mail, thus saving the Club funds in printing and mailing this material to them. But only about 10% of the membership votes. This is troubling.

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 grassroots membership in order to function well. Yearly participation in elections at all Club levels is a major membership obligation. Your Board of Directors is required to stand for election by the membership. This Board sets Club policy and budgets at the national level and works closely with the Executive Director and staff to operate the Club. Voting for candidates who express your views on how the Club should grow and change is both a privilege and responsibility of membership.

Members frequently state that they don't know the candidates and find it difficult to vote without learning more. You can learn more by asking questions of your group leadership. Also, visit the Club's election web site:

This site provides links to additional information about candidate, and their views on a variety of issues facing the Club and the environment. You should use your own judgment by taking several minutes to read the ballot statement of each candidate. Then make your choice and cast your vote. Even if you receive your election materials in the mail, please go to the user-friendly Internet voting site to save time and postage. If necessary, you will find the ballot is quite straightforward and easy to mark and mail.

White Pine Group EXCOM Election Ballot

The terms of two of our Group's EXCOM members expire at the end of this year (Jim Fahrion and Barb Cooey.) So for 2012, an even-numbered year, we are to elect two EXCOM members. The following members have graciously agreed to have their names placed on the ballot. No one else rose to the occasion :( so a space for a write-in is also included since our By-Laws indicate we are to have an actual "election" with at least one more candidate than positions available.

Program, outing, and operational ideas are also welcome! Jot some down as they may help stimulate new thinking and an increase in active participation.

While we would enjoy an increase in involvement, THANKS for being a values member supporting "the cause". We wish to meet more members in 2012.

Mail the below ballot and suggestions for Group programs and Outings to Charlie Winterwood no later than January 20, 2012. VOTE FOR TWO.

Option: Bring ballot to January 24 meeting.



_____ Jim Fahrion: Current EXCOM member is a retired instrumental music teacher who enjoys hiking, kayaking and canoeing (such as several Project AWARE River Clean-up trips), skiing, and most anything outdoors. Jim is a member of the Ski Patrol at Sundown, has been on several National Sierra Club Service Trips, and provides programs for our Group meetings.

 _____ Jane Worm: Serves as the appointed Turkey Dinner Fundraiser coordinator and Secretary for our Group. At the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, Jane is the volunteer Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, leads tours, and greets every Wednesday and Friday and has received recognition as Volunteer of the Year. AND, she attends our Group meetings! :)

_____ Write-In: ____________________________________________________

Ideas for Programs and Outings and/or other comments about Group activity/participation: (What sorts of things might inspire participation?)


White Pine Group EXCOM, 2011

Charlie Winterwood

Jim Fahrion

Dick Worm

Barb Cooey
Gary Thompson

Appointed Officers

Secretary/Turkey Dinner Fundraiser
Jane Worm

Mike Muir

Gretel Winterwood

Carol Thompson

Todd Michaels


This 2011-2012 Winter Needle is being mailed to about 392 members at 346 membership locations: 140 in the 52001, 02, 03 Dubuque area and 62 in the 52101 Decorah area.

Printing and mailing cost is about $280 for each of our three annual newsletters. Is it worth it? The EXCOM has kept it going, for now anyway, as long as Turkey Dinner attendance and donations continue. Just $5/member would be nearly $2000.

The Winter Needle is now for January/February/March.

Autumn 2011 Outing Reports

To "Explore and Enjoy" are significant aspects of an active Sierra Club membership. Our Group offers outings to foster camaraderie and explorations serving as motivators for us to also "Protect."

The September 11 early evening hike to the Sinapee Cemetery Overlook did offer a great sunset view across the Mississippi. However, the later chigger bite count comparisons dramatically added even more to the event's memorability for those who were afflicted. :-/

The October 16 trip to Effigy Mounds was canceled due to no RSVPs, but was shifted to Swiss Valley Park for the few who arrived without an RSVP at the Dubuque meeting location. It is important to RSVP when an outing is far away from the home of an outing leader, but also for phoning in case a last minute change has to occur for any reason.

The November 19 hike at White Pine Hollow took 22 participants down and up some awesome slopes past a "rock garden" of huge blocks of cliff-face boulders to a remote waterfall setting in a sheer-walled gorge! Wow!

The December 2-3 trip to Minnesota's Forestville and Lake Louise State Parks was a solitary event for the leader and his granddaughter's "Flat Cassandra", but Forestville's Friday night sunset from Maple Ridge, starlit camping and campfire, and the Saturday morning visit of the historic town site and the Rock Slumps and Ravine Trails loop hike were very pleasant. PM wet snowfall limited the Lake Louise hike to the lake area and Howard Co. photo ops at Lidtke Mill and Hayden Prairie.