Building Our Future: Discovering the Work the Cumberland Sierra Club Needs to Do

Those of you who were able to attend Activist Weekend got some sense of how hard the Cumberland Chapter has been working, particularly on the various problems created by the mining and burning of coal. We are certainly looking to continue and intensify ourefforts on those fronts.

Looking forward, we are in planning mode and want to identify work in line with the Sierra Club’s priorities that needs doing and that we might be able to work on effectively. What this involves is finding the right match between the size and nature of the problem or issue and our capacity, that is, the mix of people and resources that we can muster. And that is where you can help.

This coming fall will mark the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Clean Water Act. Google “clean water act 40th anniversary” and you will see that a number of organizations are planning events and campaigns to mark this important anniversary.

Beyond doubt, there are water issues that urgently need work across Kentucky, and we intend to use this anniversary to increase our understanding of the Clean Water Act and how it can be used to address these problems. In the process, we will discover what other tools we need to wield as well.
Our water problems include heavy metal contamination that degrades the headwater streams of Eastern Kentucky, the combined sewage and storm water problems that have led to EPA enforcement actions and consent decrees in our major urban areas, the straight pipes and the cows in streams that pollute our waters with E Coli, and the nitrogen and phosphorus run offs from agriculture that burden our waters with harmful nutrient levels.

Then there are numerous forest and land use issues in the rural parts of the state and sprawl, zoning and brown field issues in the urban areas, as well as the need for green transportation and building codes. And you might well be able to think of other issues related to climate change, water quality or quantity, habitat and ecosystem stewardship and the protection of species diversity.

We cannot work effectively on all these things at once: we simply do not have the money or people power, but there are almost 5,000 of us in the Cumberland Chapter, and we intend to find ways of both broadening and deepening our effort. For that, though, we need your help, starting with suggestions for problems appropriate for us to work on, strategies for working on those problems effectively, and offers of ways in which you would be willing to help us all live sustainable, healthful, and responsible lives—individually, as communities, and throughout the world.

Please email me at to identify issues we need to work on, offer insights that can help us solve our environmental problems, or volunteer to become part of a team working to make things better.

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