Sierran Masthead

Michiana Group Balances Work and Play

By Hazel Stevens, Michiana Group

Every day seems to bring with it another news story of poor environmental policy. When the Michiana Group's conservation committee first started meeting this year, it was difficult to narrow down the number of issues to work on. Poor air and water quality, invasive plants and pests, greenways and developments, discharges and sewage overflows, wetlands and woodlands were just some of the issues crying out for attention. How do conservationists stay focused and avoid discouragement?

Photo by Hazel Stevens.

One way is to get outside and appreciate the outdoors to remember why we are working so hard to protect the environment. In April, a group of Michiana Sierrans made the trip to the 54th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the flowers were late blooming, but the wooded trails and abundant wildlife refreshed the soul. We learned firsthand about hardships in our national parks due to severe budget cuts. But during the trip, we also met dedicated and faithful volunteers who are doing their best to help preserve these national treasures.

In August, many of our members are going across the country to Glacier National Park. What an experience this will be! To quote John Muir, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees."

After such periods of refreshment, it is back to work, and together we can make a difference. We encourage members in our four-county region to join our "action alert" list and receive notification of environmental developments that need immediate attention. (This is also is a good way to receive program and outing updates.) To sign on, please send a note to or call Dave Norris, group chair, at (574) 256-1648.

Our most active members are from St. Joseph and Elkhart counties, so we especially want to hear from Sierrans in Marshall and Kosciusko counties. How can we help you mobilize an active Sierra Club presence there, as well as address specific environmental needs in your area? Perhaps a southern and northern branch of the Michiana Group could be developed, with quarterly meetings together. Give us your input!

Here are details on upcoming general group meetings to be held at The Res at 7 p.m.:

  • Thursday, July 15. Evelyn "Evie" Kirkwood, director of St. Joseph County Parks, naturalist, newspaper columnist, and host of "Outdoor Elements" on WNIT public television.
  • Thursday, Aug. 19. Michiana Watershed…Comprising Lake Michigan, Kankakee River, and St. Joseph River Basins, this organization encourages restoration and conservation of our natural resources through projects such as the Michiana Paddlefest.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[06/06/04]efp

Summer 2004