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Big Bend Regional Sierra Club
Regular Public Meeting
19 February 2002

Vice-chair Luanne Hirsch called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in Chair Don Dowdey's absence. She introduced the evening's speaker, John Karges of The Nature Conservancy of Texas and his program entitled "Natural West Texas."

John's program focused on the biological richness of west Texas, owing to its great environmental and elevational gradient that ranges from lowland desert to mid-elevation grassland to montane pine-oak forest, and some highly specialized habitats found within. He presented factual and entertaining examples, illustrated by excellent slides, of Gypsum Dunes, Monahans Sandhills, HIP-O Ranch grassland near Marfa, various aquatic resources including springs and permanent watercourses, and finally high elevation conifer forests.

Chair Don Dowdey arrived in time to conduct a business meeting following Karges' presentation, covering the following topics:

The Executive Committee held its first meeting of the year on 30 January 2002. The slate of members/officers is:
Chair: Don Dowdey
Vice-chair: Luanne Hirsch
Treasurer: Virginia Campbell
Secretary: Linda Hedges
Water Committee Chair: Liz Hightower

Don asked for volunteer(s) who could be called upon to take minutes at BBRSC regular public meetings when Linda Hedges cannot attend due to work-related travel.

An outing has been planned for 23 February 2002, organized by Liz Hightower, to hike the Rancherias Spur Trail (~10 level miles round trip) at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Interested parties should meet in the parking lot behind La Placita in Alpine at 7:30 a.m. to make carpool arrangements, or meet the group at Warnock Center in Lajitas no later than 9:00 a.m. Participants who are interested in optional camping following the hike are asked to contact Pam Gaddis.

An anti-nuclear workshop, sponsored by the Lone Star Chapter and other organizations, will be held at Lake Whitney State Park near Hillsboro on 27 April 2002. Plans are still underway, but the program will include a national speaker, dialogue on waste issues, and some entertainment. Don pointed out that representation from the Big Bend region is very important, and that there is now funding in the budget to help defray travel costs for participants representing BBRSC.

The Bush administration is continuing to push its proposed guidelines related to the Clean Air Act, New Source Review, and BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology), with issuance of final rules expected in March. Although the EPA preliminary rules would strengthen the Clean Air Act, and result in less pollution coming toward Big Bend, the Administration seems to be moving toward a position that will weaken it, and allow more pollution. As the situation evolves, e-mail alerts will be forthcoming.

On behalf of BBRSC, Fran Sage has sent a letter to Dr. Escabedo of Texas Department of Health (with copies going to several influential parties) invoking the Open Records Act to force release of the health study he conducted in 1999, which looked at correlations between environmental quality and wellness/illness levels of Big Bend area residents.

Don acknowledged Virginia Campbell for her leadership in organizing and conducting calendar sales in 2001. BBRSC cleared over $800 from this project.

Ginny Campbell presented the treasurer's report, which indicates the following balances: Checking $624.93
Available Savings $836.73
[Encumbered Savings $1269.25]
Six-month certificate of deposit $4000

Five people contributed 9 person-hours to pick up 11 large bags of trash along BBRSC's adopted section of Highway 90 east of Alpine on 9 February 2002.

BBRSC is 5 years old! Membership has grown from 6 - 7 people to ~110 since the club was organized. To celebrate, we enjoyed a special cake at the conclusion of the meeting. The following members were given certificates of recognition for their longevity as Sierra Club members:
Jim and Fran Sage: 20 years
Joe and Virginia Campbell: 15 years
Jim and Barbara Walker: 5 years

Meeting adjourned.

Submitted by Linda Hedges, Secretary


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