16 Years with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center: Tom “Yusha” Sager Looks to the Past and Future as he Retires from the Board of Directors

Tom “Yusha” Sager’s service and dedication have meant a lot to Great Rivers over the years. Next week he offically steps off of our Board of Directors. We will be forever grateful for his service, and will all miss his presence at future meetings.

Yusha wrote some reflections about his 16 years with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

16 Years with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center: A Summary
by Tom “Yusha” Sager

When Lewis Green asked me to serve on the Board of Directors of Great Rivers Environmental Law Center 16 years ago, my first thought was why me? I’m not a lawyer and I don’t have any strong connections with St. Louis. I don’t recall his exact words; but he said something like “That’s why I want you on the Board of Directors.” As with everything Lewis said and did, there was a lot of wisdom behind his decision that the Directors of Great Rivers should be a diverse group.

Over the past 16 years I’ve watched Great Rivers double the size of it’s legal staff fromtwo to four attorneys. I’ve watched it chalk up victory after victory from saving Buehler Park in Rolla from commercial development in 2007 to winnng the requirement earlier this month that the Bridgeton Landfill test outfalls and leachate for radiological contamination.


Sarah Willey speaking to a group at an event in Springfield, Missouri in late 2017.

One of the most positive recent events for Great Rivers was Sarah Willey joining the staff as Director of Development and Community Outreach. Sarah has been traveling up and down the State of Missouri getting the name Great Rivers out before the public. This is a dimension that until recently Great Rivers lacked.




Some thoughts about the future of Great Rivers: I would like to see Great Rivers continue to diversify in all possible ways: professionally, racially and geographically. The environment belongs to us all, and Great Rivers should reflect the entire population of the State of Missouri. I’d like to see Great Rivers continue to challenge polluting industries and the bureaucrats who enable these industries and stand in the way of


An example of the type of pollution Great Rivers works to reduce.

environmental reform. Should Great Rivers need a plaintiff in a suit against industry or government, I stand ready to do my part.

And I’ve learned a lot over the 16 years I’ve been involved with Great Rivers. I particularly enjoyed filing pro se (with much help from Bruce Morrison) to try to stop an unnecessary road and the ugliest little shopping center on I-44 from coming to Rolla. We delayed them six months and, I believe, came very close to stopping them altogether.

I hope to stay involved with Great Rivers, although I intend to concentrate my waning energies on working for Peace, as I believe very little can be done for the physical environment as long as we remain focused on War and Violence. As the weekly Rolla Peace Vigils enter their 12th year, I hope to continue vigilling for Peace as long as I’m physically able. I also intend to continue volunteering as a  reader and teller of stories in Rolla’s elementary and preschools, with hope that the next generation may do somewhat better for the Earth than my generation.

May Great Rivers continue to be a positive force for our environment.



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