Dale Jones, an influential environmental leader with the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth in the northwest during the 60’s through the 80’s, passed away in Washington, DC in late January of heart failure. Raised in Holland, Michigan, he attended the University of Arizona on a tennis scholarship before being drafted into the U.S. Army. After duty in Vietnam he supervised the movement of war materials during the Cuban missile crisis to Florida. Later, he was stationed at Fort Lewis where he developed his love for the Northwest.
Upon discharge, Dale settled down in Seattle, worked for Westinghouse and developed his love of the Northwest and the need to conserve its resources. He joined the Mountaineers building their film and photo collection. Then he joined the campaign to save the North Cascades from the loggers’ chainsaws and the board of the North Cascades Conservation Council from 1969 to 1990. Dale also became increasingly active with the old Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club. From 1969-70, he was the editor of the “Conifer” – the chapter’s newsletter.
His involvement with the Sierra Club brought him in contact with executive director, David Brower. When Brower left the Club and founded Friends of Earth (FOE) he asked Dale to establish the NW office in Seattle. In that position he became a leading spokesman on the northwest conservation issues of the time including endangered species, energy conservation, hunting rights for Natives in Alaska, and opposing DDT spraying in northwest forests. In 1970, FOE led the opposition to congressional funding of a supersonic transport airplane by Boeing due to concerns with high-level ozone pollution and noise. In keeping with his unique tactical approach, Dale would meet out of town reporters at the airport and take them to their meetings with Boeing officials, thereby ensuring that national reporters heard the environmentalist’s message last.
In 1973, Dale was honored by the Oregon Environmental Council with a special commendation for his work in environmental and conservation issues especially the addition of the Minam River Canyon to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Dale also received the Washington Ecological Commission’s Environmental Excellence Award, a statewide recognition presented by Governor Booth Gardner for his outstanding work in environmental protection.
Overall, Dale is remembered by his friends and colleagues for his unfailing optimism, good cheer, sense of humor and his endless encouragement to fight on for the right causes regardless of their popularity. He established a base of support for the environmental cause in the northwest. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dale for the beauty that remains. He is survived by his wife, Rachel Evans of Washington, DC.