By a 2-to-1 margin, Sierra Club members approved a new policy calling for no commercial logging on public lands.
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
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.