More and more dirt is coming to light about the Boy Scouts of America Association’s logging activities. A 20-year long investigation, conducted by five Hearst Newspapers, found dozens of cases nation-wide of scout councils clear cutting or performing other means of logging to make a profit by selling the wood to big timber companies, developers and others.
The investigation found that council leaders logged across at least 34,000 acres, and often times, this was on or near areas inhabited by protected wildlife including salmon, timber wolves, bald eagles and spotted owls.
The report found that in some cases the councils were logging and profiting off land that was a gift, donated with the intention that scouts would use it for camp and recreational purposes. Other reports showed that councils submitted incomplete or inaccurate logging plans to state officials and in some cases ignored regulations established to protect wildlife and natural resources.
The BSA responded to the reports, saying “there are many reasons councils harvest timber, including safety, health of the forest and wise use of the income to serve our youth.” And indeed, the records showed that some councils used selective logging that actually helped the forests. But this was certainly not true across the board. The report showed that councils have conducted at least 60 clear cuts and 35 salvage harvests, which are types of logging that primarily, aim to make money and can substantially damage the environment.
Unfortunately, this report is not isolated. In northern California, scout councils are currently under fire from state and federal regulators for ignoring safeguards warnings and proceeding with their dam-building plans that killed at least 30 threatened steelhead trout. The trout, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, were reported to have died because the lake was filled too fast, which created insufficient flow downstream.
The Scouts were trying to build the dam in Little Sur River, north of the rugged Big Sur coast, to conduct their annual Camp Pico Blanco. Leaders denied the blame for the dead fish, saying that they followed protocol, but the fisheries services reported that the Scouts were responsible for the unauthorized killing of the steelhead and pointed out several requirements that they failed to execute.
Part of the outdoor code for scouts declares, “As an American, I will do my best to … be considerate in the outdoors. I will treat public and private property with respect. … and, be conservation minded. I will learn how to practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy.” But if the leaders of this organization are not paying attention to the codes that they establish, how do they expect their followers to? Council leaders are logging the very areas intended to teach children about respecting the environment.
Challenge the Boy Scouts of America to hold all council leaders accountable to this outdoor code, and sign a petition telling them to stop logging the wilderness.