Pay to Play in National Parks?

By Newsroom America Feeds at 1 Nov 2017

The Sierra Club Insider

Pay to Play

Last Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a proposal to more than double entry fees—from $30 per vehicle to $70 per vehicle—at 17 of our most popular national parks during the five-month summer season. If this proposal goes through, U.S. public lands, rightly celebrated as an inspiring example of our democratic aspirations, are at risk of becoming exclusive playgrounds for the well-to-do. The Department of Interior is accepting public comments until November 23. Read Sierra magazine editor in chief Jason Mark's analysis of what's behind the move. Send a message and let the Department of Interior know what you think about the proposed entry fees.

Fishy Whitefish Contract Canceled

After a $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid was awarded to a tiny firm from Whitefish, Montana—Ryan Zinke's hometown—thousands of Sierra Club members and supporters reached out to Congress demanding that this lucrative no-bid deal be investigated. And this past Sunday the governor of Puerto Rico cancelled the deal! The FBI and FEMA are beginning an investigation into how Whitefish Energy, a company with no experience in disaster recovery, but strong ties to Zinke, landed such a plush contract. Tell Congress to keep the pressure on for a thorough investigation of the fishy Whitefish Energy deal.

Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Kris Grogan

And in Other Zinke-Related Developments...

The Bureau of Land Management recently finalized protections to stop venting and flaring of fracked gas and other dangerous pollutants on public and tribal lands. But Secretary Zinke wants to weaken these commonsense, cost-effective protections to keep our communities and our children healthier. This is a blatant attempt to give corporate polluters a free pass to dump millions of tons of toxic pollution into our air. Tell Secretary Zinke to put Americans' health before polluters' profits.

The Censor and the Coming Storms

More than a million people in the Northeast were left without power on Monday after a massive tropical storm struck on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Storms made more destructive by rising sea levels and warming waters—a trend that began with Hurricane Katrina and includes the storms that devastated Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico this year—will become even more deadly unless we take action. Why, then, asks Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, is Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's hatchet man at the EPA, gagging his agency's scientists and suppressing data on climate change?

Photo shows the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Winter Wanderings

Crisp air and silent beauty are the hallmarks of these enchanting journeys through frozen landscapes. Cross-country ski or snowshoe a variety of wilderness areas at the peak of winter, or learn to mush your own team of huskies in Alaska. View all our snow trips and sign up.

Photo by Lina Nilsson

Delightfully Spooky Wildlife

While many will masquerade as ghouls and ghosts this Halloween, the critters featured in the new, second season of Smithsonian Earth's Strange Creatures, will inspire awe, fear, and wonder exactly as they are. Each of the show's six episodes feature a handful of beautifully bizarre creatures. Whether crawling across a bedroom floor or trolling the depths of the Pacific Ocean, the stars of this show will trick viewers with their outlandish body parts and, thanks to their mesmerizing powers of disguise and adaptation, treat you as well. Check 'em out.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Earth

Kiersey Clemons Is All Ears

How did Kiersey Clemons, the 23-year-old actress who recently costarred in the film Flatliners, spend National Public Lands Day? Touring the new Bears Ears National Monument with local Native American advocates, receiving reiki (you'll find out when you read the story), learning to forage, and gaining new perspective on the national monument, which President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke want to radically shrink. Find out why Clemons vehemently opposes downsizing Bears Ears, and watch a video of her eye-opening visit.

How to See the Living Forest for the Trees

A new book about forest ecosystems, The Living Forest, shows that within the biosphere all around us, there is an intelligence that is alive to the world. "From soaring heights up above the tree canopy down to the finest filigree of a root stem," writes Sierra magazine managing editor Jonathan Hahn, The Living Forest is "an adventure into the biosphere we call home." Read on and find out why there's a difference between looking and seeing.

Photo by Robert Llewellyn, from The Living Forest, courtesy of Timber Press (October 2017)

The Hidden Heroes of Hurricane Season

Thousands of people affected by hurricanes during the past two months owe their lives to brave emergency responders. But what about the wild animals whose habitats have also been destroyed? That's where wildlife rehabilitators, or "rehabbers," come in.

Photo courtesy of Austin Wildlife Rescue

The Garden, Reconsidered

Eleven years ago, as the urban farming movement was beginning to take hold, Jason Mark cofounded an inner-city farm that now produces some 22,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables annually. But for all his sense of wonder at what can be coaxed from the earth on "a smidgen of land in one of the most densely populated cities in the United States,: he now wonders if the garden metaphor has outlived its usefulness. Find out why one gardener thinks it's time to reconsider whether the garden is the best symbol for forming a right relationship with the rest of nature. .

The Hummingbird Whisperer

Ask around the UCLA campus for the hummingbird lady, and you'll be directed to the office of Melanie Barboni, a post-doctoral fellow who oversees a fairyland of hummingbirds in the geology building. More than 200 of the diminutive sugar-fiends perch on feeders and nest in the surrounding trees. Some even fly into her office and perch on her fingers for belly rubs. Barboni is so bonded with the hummers that she has named 50 of them. Reporter Jason Daley asked Barboni how she became "the hummingbird whisperer" and how to get a few of the beautiful birds in our own backyards.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Barboni

Whales Like Us

Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) might have culture -- and the brains to go with it. According to a new study, cetaceans independently evolved the kind of complex social behaviors that are usually considered the exclusive attributes of humans and other primates, despite having gotten there with a very different brain structure. Sierra news editor Heather Smith examines the new findings.

Finding Direction in the Aftermath of War

Evan Bogart served three tours of duty as a U.S. Army infantryman in Afghanistan and Iraq. The violence and destruction he witnessed left him feeling angry and guilty; he distinctly remembers a moment in Iraq when "an old woman told me I was a bad man, and I realized I agreed with her." Bogart mustered out of the Army with an honorable discharge, but transitioning to civilian life proved to be a bumpy road that led to alcohol and drug abuse. For five directionless years, he lived with "something of a death wish." Find out what turned this veteran's life around.

Photo by Robert Vessels

Take This Pipeline and...

Enbridge, Inc., the Canadian company behind the biggest inland oil spill in U.S. history, wants to build... drum roll, please... a new pipeline! Line 3 would bring up to 760,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil through the Mississippi River headwaters region, threatening the drinking water supply for millions of people and cutting through treaty-protected tribal lands and sacred wild rice beds. Enbridge shouldn't be allowed to profit at the expense of clean water, tribal lifeways, and public health. Tell the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reject the Line 3 pipeline and keep tar sands in the ground.

Chill the Drills

The House and Senate have passed budget resolutions that pave the way for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But they still need to pass budget reconciliation measures that would allow them to change the law and open the Refuge to drilling. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to pass a budget bill by the end of the year, so time is of the essence if we are to stop the most dire threat the Refuge has faced in decades. Tell your members of Congress that you strongly oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.


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