Sierran Masthead

Members Achieved Wilderness Win in 80s

Second in a Four-Part Series Celebrating the Hoosier Chapterís 25th Anniversary

The year 2000 marks the Hoosier Chapterís 25th anniversary, and weíre observing it with a four-part series on our past and future as a lead advocate for Indianaís environment. This is the second article on the chapterís achievements for one decade. The seventies were featured in the last issue, the eighties are covered here, and the nineties will be covered in the next issue. The last article will discuss the chapterís future in a new century.

by Jennifer Cannon, Chapter Coordinator

With both the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act up for reauthorization by Congress in the 1980s, the Hoosier Chapter found itself working on national issues while simultaneously continuing its struggle for wilderness in the Hoosier National Forest.

The chapter joined a statewide coalition guided by then State Representative Jim Jontz to support the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act of 1970 as amended in 1977. The coalition was part of a National Clean Air Coalition that also included several other Hoosier environmental organizations.

The coalition called for the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act with additional protections that included the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to further protect high-quality air areas such as national forests; additional authority to the EPA to set standards on toxic substances; regulation of fines particles; acid rain reduction programs; and increased responsibilities for auto manufacturers to meet tighter emission standards.

The chapter continued its efforts from the 70s to obtain wilderness designation in the Hoosier National Forest.

From the chapter archives: Tim Maloney accepts the Chapter Conservation Award for his work on clean air, the Hoosier National Forest, acid rain, and hazardous waste at the 1984 Chapter Annual Retreat at Pokagon State Park in Angola.

Hoosier Chapter leaders fought for preservation of primitive areas such as those in Salt Creek and Nebo Ridge. As the Indiana Department of Natural Resources proceeded with construction of recreational and hunting areas in Salt Creek, the chapter made wilderness designation a top priority.

Then, after a 10-year battle, a bill to designate 12,953 acres of the Hoosier National Forest as wilderness was proposed.

Appearing in support of the bill to the Senate Committee were club members Greg Silver, Jeff Stant, and Bill Hayden. In December 1982, President Reagan signed the Indiana Wilderness Bill formally creating the Charles C. Deam Wilderness.

The Hoosier Chapter, along with other Sierra Club chapters, circulated a petition to remove anti-environmentalist Interior Secretary James Watt. Hoosier petitions added to the 1.1 million total generated by the Sierra Club and presented by 70 Sierrans on the steps of the nationís Capitol. James Watt resigned in 1983.

It wasnít all work for Hoosier Sierrans though. Sierra Club leaders such as Geza Csapo, who has been leading outings throughout his membership since 1978, hiked the Porcupine Mountains, canoed the Chain Oí Lakes, and explored the Everglades. Geza continues to lead members on adventures, including his notorious Amtrak outings to Glacier and Grand Canyon National Parks. The chapter continued to grow in the 1980s. In 1985, the Dunelands Group was established in northwestern Indiana.

Al Strickholm, who has been a member since 1963, worked to strengthen membership with leaders Joseph Colbourn and Bob Graham, both instrumental in forming the Michiana Group. Al continues to serve the Uplands Group as well as the chapter.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[9/25/02]efp

Summer 2000