200 Years after Lewis and Clark…

Protecting and Restoring the Lands and Water Traveled by the Corps of Discovery. The Sierra Club Lewis and Clark Campaign

The Sierra Club Lewis and Clark Campaign

The Lewis and Clark expedition fires America's imagination today just as it did 200 years ago. The history and stories of the Corps of Discovery’s journey are part of our heritage, for better or worse, and they reflect America in its purest, most natural and wild state. Much has changed since Lewis and Clark – yet much endures. Travelers to North Dakota's Little Missouri Badlands, Lemhi Pass through the Rocky Mountains, or Idaho's Lolo Trail can still find an America unchanged since the days of Lewis and Clark.

But the wildlands and wildlife that have survived the last 200 years are in jeopardy and under assault. The Columbia River is no longer, in Meriwether Lewis' words "crouded with salmon." Damming has reduced the Missouri at Omaha to one-third of its 1803 width. Ninety percent of Washington's old-growth forests are gone. Only 1 percent of our native tallgrass prairies remain. And where we once had 100,000 grizzly bears, there are now fewer than 1,000 left. Endangered salmon, bear and bison – plentiful in Lewis and Clark’s time – struggle to survive on degraded habitat. Logging, oil and gas drilling, and off-road vehicles are tearing up what’s left of our wild country.

To reduce threats to our environment, to recognize what’s been lost since the time of Lewis and Clark and to conserve and restore what’s left of wild America, Sierra Club is leading a five-year campaign to link conservation and the commemoration of the 200-year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark exploration.

Sierra Club will use the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark to help America rediscover these incredible lands and urge Americans to advocate the protection and restoration of our remaining wild places. Our goal is to permanently protect the 56 million acres of remaining wildlands in the country Lewis and Clark explored, preserve and restore key wildlife habitat and protect threatened and endangered species like bison, wolves, grizzly bears and salmon. The solutions we advocate include: wilderness designation, hands-on conservation, lands acquisition, smart growth and ending commercial logging on our National Forests and public lands.

The “Lewis and Clark Campaign” has grown and achieved a great deal over the last year. In the first phase of our project, we developed colorful, informative materials to highlight 33 places in 8 states of “Lewis and Clark country” that need protection. The stories of these special places are described in our profile book, “Wild America: Protecting the Lands of Lewis and Clark.” An interactive web site http://www.sierraclub.org/lewisandclark/, allows a visitor to view the book, browse more information and learn how to get involved.

Already, two campaign sites have been protected. In May 2000, President Clinton designated Hanford Reach, the last-free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River, in southern Washington, as a National Monument. And, Steens Mountain in Alvord Desert, Oregon is a Cooperative Management and Protection Area.

Edwina Allen, a long-time activist in Idaho, is the campaign’s volunteer Chair. Recently, two full-time positions were created to help lead the campaign. Mary Kiesau is the campaign coordinator, overseeing all components of the campaign in the 8-state project region. David Ellenberger is the campaign’s media and outreach coordinator, helping develop the campaign’s materials, website and visibility.

Conservation staff and Sierra Club volunteers from Nebraska to Washington are creating and expanding conservation campaigns, collaborating with a variety of interest groups, and raising the public profile of what’s at stake in the lands Lewis and Clark traveled. Through presentations, public education and outreach materials, historical events, community fairs, scientific forums, outings, reports and media work, we are engaging the public’s interest, energizing them to call for wildland protection, and linking conservation to the commemoration of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.

Please join us in ensuring the protection of wild America. To find out how you can help or get involved in your area, contact Mary Kiesau at 206-378-0114, ext. 311 or mary.kiesau@sierraclub.org, or visit http://www.sierraclub.org/lewisandclark/.

 

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