The people who are Sierra Activists are nothing short of heroic. The Southwind Group dedicated the first four wetland flower gardens in appreciation of two living activists and two departed activists. However there are many others we should honor particularly, Margaret and Paul Miller well known for their “Citizens For Recycling” and the recycling facility. It is less well known that Margaret was editor of the Kansas Sierra newsletter. They have many other splendid achievements, including their children who are activists as well. I would like to also honor DeEtte Huffman, founder of Ark River Coalition and Frank Smith former parks director for Wichita. However there are many other.
On May 5th, a group of Sierrans assembled at the “Old Goat Ranch” and honored Tom Kneil for his life time of serving environmental groups: President of the Kansas Canoe Association, Chapter ExCom and representative to the National Council of Club Leaders, Ark River Coalition officer, gentleman, scholar and professor. Also honored was Larry Ross, particularly honored for his courage in the face of intense criticism for his determined effort on the Wichita Metropolitan Planning commission opposing building houses in ponding areas and flood plains.
We talked about Kansas Sierra Club’s former lobbyist, lawyer, county commissioner and college professor Charles Benjamin. He was a lawyer veteran of the Wichita Trash Wars and Hog Farm Wars in western Kansas. Many flowers were planted by those in attendance in his memory.
Another honoree was Ann Morris who led Southwind in opposition to Vulcan Chemical Company prior to the clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, both of which congressional republicans want to repeal. It should be remembered that republican president Nixon signed those two laws.
The attendees camped and at the end of the “Giant Trail” is Mike Davis’ cabin along with a small greenway park where we sat around a campfire to roast marshmallows and share food together. The “Giants Trail” is so named because these honorees truly are giants. Mother Nature favored us with a full moon – “Super Moon.” Mike led the hike under the brilliant night sky. They reported seeing their shadows at midnight and told tall tales about climbing “fourteeners” in Colorado and bear encounters.
Maybe we should dedicate more wetland gardens to honor other truly deserving “Giants” in the environmental struggle. People like the eagle and raptor rehabilitator Ken Lockwood and Ellie Skokan. Let me know if you have an honoree in mind.
#3323 is Larry Ross’ spot where we paid tribute to him and his efforts. Larry was not present but is doing fine at this time. #3340 is Charles Benjamin’s spot where we paid tribute to him. The entire crew stood around the statute of David.
I will have to send a pic at a time. I’ll send an article later. These pics are of Tom Kneil and Grace Kneil. We paid tribute to Tom on the Sierra Giants path and placed a broken paddle and broken fiberglass canoe at the site marking Tom’s spot. You can
By Bill Cather