The mail-in vote on the so-called "zero cut" policy represents a major victory for about 2,000 loosely affiliated dissidents in the club known as the John Muir Sierrans. In the months before the vote, they waged an intense political battle with many leaders in the organization who strongly opposed the measure.
Two of the proponents, Chad Hanson of Oregon and David Orr of northern California, spent three months visiting chapters around the country, urging members to stick with the vision of founder-naturalist John Muir, who originally proposed making national forests off-limits to logging in the 1890s. The Sierra Club's most prominent board members, David Brower and Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman, split on the issue: Brower urged members to support the new policy while Foreman urged its rejection because of its political impracticality.
Following the vote, fences were mended. Chad Hanson and executive director Carl Pope wrote a joint editorial criticizing the "radical" members of Congress and the timber industry for the salvage logging rider. Sierra Club Conservation Director Bruce Hamilton says the vote means the club will seek members of Congress to introduce a zero-cut bill. It won't, however, prevent club chapters and groups from working with federal agencies on forest plan revisions that allow commercial logging. And, he adds, it won't be used as a litmus test for political candidates to win the club's endorsement.
* Paul Larmer