Area Sierra Club chapter is born

Monday, June 12, 2006

When Donna Buell looks out the window of her lakeside townhouse in Spirit Lake, she admires the beauty of the clear blue water rolling onto the shore. She also remembers clean water and a beautiful, pollution free environment are not to be taken for granted.

"When you put your entire savings into a lake house, around here, I think people realize they have a lot to lose," Buell said. "That is why I became interested in the environment. After a while it gets in the blood."

On the bookshelf in Buell's Spirit Lake law office, the books "Fundraising for Dummies" and "Nonprofits for Dummies" are in an easily accessible place, right next to her "Black's Law Dictionary." The books are a testament to her involvement in bringing the new Sierra Club to life. Her three years of work with the Iowa Environmental Commission makes her a good choice to form the group.

Buell is one of the people organizing a Prairie Lakes Sierra Club to serve Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, O'Brien, Osceola and Palo Alto counties. Buell says the club is being formed to advance the environmental concerns of the area to the state and national levels. Issues the group will tackle include stopping sprawl and encouraging low impact development, protecting and restoring wildlands, defending the clean water act, protecting lake and river watersheds, reducing pollution from animal factories and promoting clean energy.

"This chapter is meant to help educate people about the important issues in the environment," she said.

Water quality is an issue. She said with about five bodies of water that have been declared polluted in the area, there is some work that needs to be done.

"We can't let water quality in the state go downhill anymore than it already has," Buell said. She said some of the water problems in the state are a result of animal confinements, but emphasizes the Sierra Club does not want to harm farmers' operations. The group will concern itself with education on the issues and what can be done to prevent pollution.

Storm Lake dredging is one example.

She said another goal of the organization is to get members out and to enjoy the nature they are working so hard to protect. The group plans to have a picnic sometime this summer. The group also can endorse political candidates.

Buell says there are about 100 people in the area interested in joining the club so far.

"The people we have are not the least bit afraid to change the world, on a local level at least," Buell said.

There is another open meeting Monday, 7 p.m. at Spencer Library, or for more information, contact Buell at or call (712) 336-2103.

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