Posted by: Tioga Jenny at 11:55AM PST on March 8, 2010
The waterfall toad in Venezuela -- a creature the size of a postage stamp -- can't hop more than a few inches, which should make it easy bait for predators.
To adapt, however, it developed feet with opposable "fingers" that enable it to escape harm in an amazing way: From its perch high above the rainforest floor, it hurls itself headlong into the air and grabs onto a branch
on the way down, sometimes hanging on by one leg.
This is just one of the fascinating critters featured in Life, the Discovery Channel's follow-up
to its wildly popular Planet Earth series
The Sierra Club and Discovery Channel are teaming up to host a series of WildLIFE house parties around the country so folks can learn about these amazing creatures. We also want them to learn about how climate change threatens and wildlife and their habitat, and ask the Obama administration to take action to protect them.
Sign up to host a WildLIFE party by March 10 and we'll send you a free 40-minute sneak-peek DVD of the Life series to screen and talk about with your guests
Narrated by Oprah Winfrey, Life
marvels at how our planet's wildlife have adapted in stunning and amazing ways. However, the growing threat of climate change is too big of a challenge for them to face on their own; we now need to help them survive.
Sign up to host a house party today
, invite your guests to a sneak-peek of Life, the sequel to the Planet Earth series, and learn how you can take action to help protect critical habitats from the threat of climate change.
Inspired by the film, house party hosts and their guests will write letters to the Obama administration to take action to protect wildlife and their habitat from climate change.
Once you sign up, you'll receive materials that include the DVD, a step-by-step guide for how to hold a party, a fact sheet to share with guests, talking points for your letter-writing, and more.
Sign up now to host a house party and help protect our planet's most vulnerable species from climate change.
Posted by: Matt Kirby at 11:19AM PST on December 4, 2009
On Wednesday, December 2, the Sierra Club partnered with a coalition of other environmental organizations to honor members of Congress who have championed efforts to protect our national forests' roadless areas. In 2001, President Clinton issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which added protections to our country's remaining 58.5 million acres of roadless forests. These ecologically rich areas serve as vital wildlife habitat, provide clean water, store large amounts of carbon, and offer exemplary recreational opportunities.
Photography copyrighted: John Hyde, Wild Things Photography
Despite President Bush's efforts to undermine the Roadless Rule, the majority of our country's remaining roadless forests remain protected, and thankfully President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have made commitments to upholding and defending this landmark conservation policy. Congressional leaders have been instrumental in the success of protecting our roadless forests and Wednesday gave us the opportunity to honor them for their efforts to build support for legislation that would more permanently protect these precious areas. Receiving awards in person were Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).
Although the majority of our country's roadless areas are currently protected, areas remain that are still at risk. Idaho and Colorado submitted state-specific plans that greatly reduce the level of protections that their roadless areas receive, and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska is not protected under the national rule thanks to a temporary exemption that the Bush administration made in 2003. As a result, there is still the need to weigh in with the Obama administration.
Take action and encourage them to uphold and defend the 2001 Roadless Rule to ensure protections of all our roadless forests, including the Tongass.
This article originally published the Lay of the Land blog.
Wednesday November 4, 2009
Posted by: Tioga Jenny at 3:49PM PST on November 4, 2009
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. Photo courtesy Jenny Coyle.
Spanish speakers out there in Trails-land -- I want to make sure you know about the upcoming premiere of the Spanish-language version of the Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Starting tonight, November 4, through January 20, the documentary
series will air in one-hour segments for twelve consecutive Wednesdays
on V-me TV.
The Sierra Club is proud to be working in partnership with V-me, the nation's fastest-growing Spanish-language TV network, to promote Parques Nacionales. In fact, we've got lots of materials about the series at www.sierraclub.org/parques. On that page you'll see a trailer of the film and find helpful resources -- tips for
first-time national park visitors, highlighted Sierra Club Outings
trips to national parks, and information about some our country's most
beloved parks -- all in Spanish.
Posted by: Canyon Kyle at 9:47AM PST on October 8, 2009
For many people who love the outdoors -- myself included -- it’s easy to separate our connection to the wild places we care about from our commitment to other environmental issues, like climate change. After all, we can burn a lot of fuel getting out to the trails. I know I can be pretty committed to public transportation and biking for most of the year, and then hit the road for an epic road trip to the Southwest so I can wander through slot canyon narrows and watch the full moon rise over graceful sandstone arches.
But the two are connected, of course. Many of us would not be so passionate about the environment if we had not been introduced to the outdoors by a parent, a teacher, or a friend. We might not be so concerned about climate change
, or the plastic piling up in the Pacific
, or the hundred or so other things that motivate us to work on behalf of the planet.
So we make our annual pilgrimages to landscapes that capture our imagination – much like people have done for millennia – in search of something lasting, beautiful, and perhaps sacred. And we make our shorter trips to the mountains, the seashore, and the river to connect the natural world. We follow John Muir’s advice
Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
These places set aside and left relatively untouched by modern society might also be one of society’s greatest allies in its fight to prevent a climate catastrophe. Deforestation and other disruptions cause up to 25 percent of the emissions
that cause climate change. That’s why I was interested to see that this fall the 9th World Wilderness Congress
, in Yucatan, Mexico, carries the theme: “Wilderness, The Climate’s Best Ally.”
As important as small changes are to helping avert climate change, protecting our last large tracks of forests is essential to safeguarding the planet. Whether or not you can make it to the Wilderness Congress, which takes place once every four years, it’s a cool event to check out. Thinking about the Congress made me consider the connection between protected land and our warming climate.
The lands we hike on, those beautiful spots that wash your spirit clean
, are also cleansing the air that is the lifeblood of the world. Perhaps we can all do a little more to protect the lands around us and also the forests of Brazil and Indonesia
. Perhaps we can carpool with our friends when we head out to the trails, and also remember that we do not lead two lives but one. That we cannot separate hiking from the rest of life. Or as Muir said:
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
Friday September 25, 2009
Posted by: Tioga Jenny at 5:29PM PST on September 25, 2009
John Muir's study desk (L: actual desk, R: sketched plans) would automatically light his lamp and fire, open the right book to study, and then change books after half an hour. Sierra Club Library Collection, all rights restricted.
When the new Ken Burns documentary series (The National Parks: America's Best Idea) starts airing on PBS Sunday night, millions of people are going to learn a bunch about the guy on the California quarter who helped create Yosemite: John Muir.
The Sierra Club's founder gets an old-school rap -- partly due to the photos of him late in life with his long, gray beard. But what people won't hear about in the PBS series is that John Muir was also an inspired inventor of some pretty crazy devices.
Here are just a few:
Muir loved clocksworks (his study-desk clock was actually built) and his design for an alarm clock
involved a truly unpleasant way to get you out of bed in the morning. The clock was hitched to a device that would knock a leg off the bed and dump you on the floor. (What, no snooze button!?)
Friday September 18, 2009
Posted by: SC Trails at 6:21PM PST on September 18, 2009
Saturday marks the culmination of Muir's March, a week-long hike and educational effort by two dozen folks who want to see the Hetch Hetchy Valley restored. This is the valley in Yosemite National Park that was dammed and flooded in 1915 to become a water source for the San Francisco Bay Area -- a project that broke the heart of Sierra Club founder John Muir.
The Muir's March group started in Tuolumne Meadows, followed the Tuolumne River down its isolated gorge (sometimes called "The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne"), and over to the rim of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. They'll finish at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the top of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and will be greeted by a crowd of supporters and speakers, including actor Lee Stetson as John Muir.
Politics aside, if you've never seen photos of what Hetch Hetchy Valley looked like before it was flooded, check out this slide show -- and you'll feel Muir's pain.
Posted by: SC Trails at 3:21PM PST on August 31, 2009
I'm on vacation this coming week through Labor Day and, because I can't decide which mountains I'd like to hike this time, I bought a last-minute ticket for Burning Man.
While I'm off being a Burner for a week, I want Trails fans to keep the home fires burning -- and I want a lot of friends to greet me when I get back from the desert.
To that end, I've cooked up a little challenge. The Trails member who gets the most friends to register on Trails and send me a friend request by midnight on Sept. 8 (Labor Day) will receive their choice of a brand new Primus ETA Power Stove or Therm-a-Rest Woman's Trail Lite mattress (sorry, I only have a woman's). AND their friends who sign up and friend me will get a Sierra Club daypack (at least until I run of daypacks, but I have a couple of dozen brand new ones).
Not only that -- but the first person who gets at least one friend to register and then friend me will get a nifty backpacking chair. And that first new friend will get a daypack, too!
Here's how it goes:
Invite your friends to become members of the Trails community. Go to your Dashboard (you can get to it in the green Trails banner at the top of each page when you're logged in), and on the left you'll see "Invite Friends." Click on that and you can then click on a link that lets you choose email addresses from your address book.
Send the following message (customize it, if you like) to your friends:
I'm having fun finding cool trails to hike in the new Sierra Club Trails community. I think you'll enjoy it, too. If you sign up before Labor Day, you'll put me in the running for some cool outdoor gear -- and if I win, you could receive a free Sierra Club daypack.
Please register here (it's quick and easy!)
and then, while you're logged in, visit Tioga Jenny's profile
and click on the "Connect as a Friend" link in the Interact box at the upper left. In the message box, be sure to mention my name and email address.
[your name and email address]
After a few days, send a reminder to your friends!
I'll miss Trails while I'm gone, but I hope to return to lots of happy friend requests! My Trails friend Zheem promises to answer any questions on this post.
Posted by: SC Trails at 11:02PM PST on August 27, 2009
Coming soon: A weekly poetry blog and a new poetry group on Trails! This post on The Big Read should whet your appetite. Stay tuned... --Tioga Jenny
….A flight of pelicans
Is nothing lovelier to look at;
The flight of the planets is nothing nobler; all the arts lose virtue
Against the essential reality
Of creatures going about their business among the equally
Earnest elements of nature.
--Robinson Jeffers, "Boats in a Fog," The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Third Edition
If you haven't heard of The Big Read, we're happy to introduce you to a remarkable National Endowment
for the Arts program that in many cases focuses on poetry about the
natural world -- which is why Trails community members should check it
Posted by: SC Trails at 12:43PM PST on August 10, 2009
That's right, friends: This weekend (August 15-16) is the third and final "fee-free" weekend in your national parks this summer. Take the opportunity to visit your favorite park (or a new one) this weekend. Depending on where you go, you might even see the Commander in Chief!
The First Family is leading by example, heading to Yellowstone National Park (see artist's interpretation, above) and the Grand Canyon among other stops during a tour of the West this week.
Plus, we expect people to flock to the park in droves once PBS begins airing the new Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea
Enjoy your weekend in the parks, then come back and share your experience (trails, photos, comments, etc.) with the community!
(Old Faithful photo courtesy of http://pdphoto.org
Posted by: SC Trails at 3:15PM PST on August 7, 2009
Snagging a souvenir (a photo) on Yosemite's Lembert Dome.
Okay, land (and water) lovers -- we need your help in generating a Top Ten list.
In conjunction with the Ken Burns documentary airing at the end of September ("National Parks: America's Best Idea"), we're reaching out to folks who have never been to a national park, hoping to make it a bit easier (and cheaper) for them to get there, stay there -- and enjoy the place!
For instance, it's half the cost at the entrance station (not to mention easier on the air quality) if you carpool and keep your group in one car, rather than dividing into two carloads. And if you're not a camper, it may be less expensive to snag a motel room just outside the park instead of staying in the park itself.
What are some other tips? Best way to see the sights? Make sure you've got the appropriate gear without breaking the bank? Build memories?
Post your ideas as comments and we'll see what we come up with. I have a feeling y'all are *exactly* the right group to ask about the "Top Ten Tips for First Time National Park Visitors."
Posted by: SC Trails at 2:27PM PST on July 14, 2009
First -- a shout-out to all who entered their excellent pictures in our National Parks Photo Contest.
It was a painful process narrowing the field to 20 finalists. Thanks for participating!
See the winning photo and the other 19 finalists here.
Now, on to our winner! Meet Josh Myers.
Josh was bound for law school when he decided to hike the length of the 2174.6-mile. Appalachian Trail with his fiancee Sarah in the summer of 2006.
"The hike changed my life," he says. "I realized I couldn't be the type of person who works in an office -- I need to spend as much time as possible outside."
He shot 8,000 photos on that trip, and that winter, when his family asked him what he'd like for Christmas, he asked for a camera and got a Nikon D200. "It's been glued to my face ever since," he says. "With photography I've found my passion and my love, and I hope to do it the rest of my life."
Josh is hoping to turn his hobby into a profession, and just recently sold an image to Backpacker
magazine -- his first sale!
The winning photo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park was shot on a one-month road trip Josh took with his roommate. They arrived at the arch at sunset.
"It was beautiful, but there were people everywhere, and I had a hard time getting a clear shot without people in it," he says. "I finally walked down a really steep embankment and got one with no one in it."
The photo was taken with a fish-eye lens on his Nikon D200, with High Dynamic Range (HDR) which helps balance the broad range of exposure.
The shot came without incident, but the road trip wasn't without its challenges. Josh says the engine went out on his '91 Jeep Wrangler in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, and he and his friend had to spend a week in Page waiting for a new engine to be shipped and installed.
"Then it broke down again in the middle of the desert in Utah," he says, "and we rigged the jeep with a sail made out of a tarp and the side doors, and coasted almost 15 miles through the desert until someone finally stopped and towed us into a town that was 40 more miles away!
"The wind had actually got us going 20 mph at one point! The trip was one big adventure, now it's paying off even more with this winning photo!"
As someone who built forts in the woods as a child and recently got into mountaineering, Josh will continue taking his camera everywhere he goes.
Visit Josh's photo site here.
Visit our National Parks group on Trails
to see all entries in the contest.
Posted by: SC Trails at 5:37PM PST on June 22, 2009
All you shutterbugs on Trails -- Wednesday, June 24, is the last day for submissions to the photo contest in our National Parks groups, so show us your best shot!
Later this week, our panel of judges (Sierra Club website designers and Sierra magazine art department staffers) will narrow the field to the 20 top photos. Beginning next Tuesday we'll let the community vote for the best one.
The winning photo will be announced on the Sierra Club's home page, the Sierra Club Trails home page, in our Insider and Daily Ray of Hope e-newsletters, and in the September/October issue of Sierra. We'll also add it to the slide show on our National Parks website.
Even if you don't take photos yourself, you'll want to head over to the National Parks group and check out the entries in the Group Gallery.
Stay tuned for details about voting next week!
Posted by: SC Trails at 3:48PM PST on May 26, 2009
If you're an Ohio hiker, we hope you're up for the 2009 Cuyahoga Challenge
. This novel event just came to our attention and we think it's a great idea. If you don't live in Ohio, it's the kind of challenge you might want to replicate in your own neck of the woods (or desert, or coast range...).
Participants register for the Challenge, and then have from June 1 to September 20 to hike at least 10 of 12 designated trails. Some folks hike the trails, some run them all, and others walk their dogs.
Forms, which can be downloaded from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association's website, can be validated at the Association's Trail Mix store, or by park rangers. Those who are successful will receive a commemorative patch designed by Akron artist Chuck Ayers.
If you're familiar with these trails or others in Ohio, please add them to our Sierra Club Trails collection!