Under the slightly overblown headline “Smart-Growth Policy Splits Environmentalists,” The New York Times gets at the challenge green groups face when they support walkable urban development. The Sierra Club backed a (successful) Berkeley ballot measure for a downtown development plan centered around transit stops.

Here’s a local chapter chairman:

“It’s controversial in the club,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “We’ve got longtime club members who see efforts to promote density as colluding with developers. That’s not true; we haven’t gotten paid a dime. Others are against living in an urban environment.”

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Mr. Lewandowski said that one member, who is upset about the organization’s support of smart-growth development, threatened to remove the club from her will.

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“You have colliding views within the movement,” he said, “and I think it’s healthy that we’re having this dialogue.”

Nature lovers and smart-growth types should be a natural alliance for the simple reason that people living in walk/bike/transit-friendly urban neighborhoods aren’t sprawling out into forests, wetlands, or farmlands. Props to the Sierra Club for educating its members on this.