Sierra Club Forest Campaign Takes Center Stage at Vermont Climate Rally
More than 1,500 Vermonters rallied in the state capital of Montpelier (population 7,800) to demand action on climate change and support community forests, green (union) jobs, energy-efficient homes and buildings, renewable energy, local/healthy food, and green transportation.
"This was quite possibly the largest environmental demonstration in the history of the Green Mountain State," said Sierra Club organizer David Vandeusen. The event, held in conjunction with the Moving Planet day of action, was organized by 350.org Vermont and co-sponsored by the Vermont Sierra Club. More than 2,000 Moving Planet rallies were held in more than 175 countries around the globe in support of a transition beyond fossil fuels. That's U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, below, at the Montpelier rally.
A delegation of Sierra Club leaders presented Governor Peter Shumlin with a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures supporting the Club's Our Forests Our Future campaign, along with letters of support from community organizations representing 8 percent of the state's total workforce. That's Vermont Chapter Chair Zak Griefen and Vice Chair David Ellenbogen flanking Shumlin, at left, below; at right, the governor talks with a constituent while Ellenbogen looks on.
"Here in Vermont, we have a tradition of working together to achieve common goals," said Griefen. "The Vermont Sierra Club is proud to join with organized labor and the Abenaki Native American community to protect critical biological corridors by establishing locally controlled community and tribal forests. These partnerships make us all stronger."
In addition to Governor Shumlin, speakers included Senator Sanders, above at right, Mike Morelli of the Iron Workers Local 7 (in support of green jobs), and Luke Willard, below, former Chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe and now Vermont Commissioner of Native American Affairs.
Willard addressed the crowd on behalf of the Nulhegan Abenaki, the Vermont Sierra Club, and the Our Forests Our Future campaign—Vermont's component of the Club's broader Resilient Habitats campaign to protect the Adirondacks to Acadia ecoregion.
"Our Forests Our Future was not conceived in the policies and procedures of bureaucracy; it was not conceived in the halls of government; it was not conceived in the offices of the corporate lobby," said Willard. "This vision was developed at community tables all over the state and customized by Vermonters who provide stewardship in these most crucial of regions."
Rather than seeking to increase federal land acquisitions or asking the state to buy more land, Our Forests Our Future would establish a mosaic of town- and tribal-owned conservation forests in key wildlife corridors.
"Our locally-owned tribal and community forest model will benefit our communities socially, economically, and culturally," Willard said, "providing firewood to those who need it most, sustainable logging revenue and jobs, cooperative maple sugaring, hunting, fishing, gathering, and green agriculture."
Watch a video of Willard's speech here, or click on the image below.
The Sierra Club's Adirondacks to Acadia campaign seeks to link the forests of Maine's North Woods, New Hampshire's White Mountains, Vermont's Green Mountains, and New York's Adirondacks. Wildlife corridors in Vermont, comprised of local, state, and national forest lands, would stretch from the northern Connecticut River Valley to the Nulhegan Basin and from the northern Green Mountains to the New York border.
All photos by Ame Solomon except close-up of Luke Willard.