The Boy Scouts of America’s Environmental Hypocrisy

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.


DREW F7 years ago

Good one Malcolm! Has anyone asked why is BSA more concerned about anti-gay + anti-athiest matters than actual boy scouting itself? Well, because the stage was taken over by the Mormons, who by infiltrating the National BSA, became the majority voters on the board, thus, practically overnight - became the new owner (controller) of every BSA camp in America (BSA is the largest private land owner in U.S.). Pretty smart! So they use the camps as an easy boy scout + their families recruiting station into the Mormon religion; they HAD to deny membership to gays (and athiest too) because the mormon religion is absolute on those issues; and since religion trumps camps, they have been liquidating and extracting natural resources (trees/logging) to fund their Mormon activities. I think its very devious and deceitful, esp. when every timber harvesting claim is 'going to improve the camp' -- blatent lies are not a problem to this massive and ugly righteous, judgmental, hateful, exclusionary, business-minded "religion" -- that will be or already sold your local BSA camp. The donors of the properties DID NOT gift to the church, but to boy scouts and the future generations of them - to conservation of the land and taught to TREAD LIGHTLY. Say goodbye to scouts, and hello to scorched earth policies for profit hailed secretly by the Mormons.

Paula L.
Paula L7 years ago

I would also like to add that we always taught our GS troop members to respect Mother Nature if you wanted her to return good back to you. You take care of Mother Nature, she will continur to take care of you, you destroy her soon she will no longer be able to give back to you. It won't be funny when there is no oxygen to breathe, they better start saving the trees!

Paula L.
Paula L7 years ago

There is good and bad in every organization. Unfortunately the bad is getting more plentiful. I was a GS leader many years ago when my girls were young and there was bad policy then, but as leaders we found ways around those policies to do what was best for the girls in our troop. Made a few upper management sour at us, but the girls were our main concern, not the benefits of the upper management. I would do the same today. You will always have the bad along with the good.

Anita Quintanilla
Anita Q7 years ago

BSA is not only uncaring of the environment, it is also insensitive to Latinos. Recently BSA aired a TV ad in attempts to atttract and recruit Hispanics. It was very stereotypical and insulting to Latinos. BSA should be non-religious and non-prejudical and adhere to a simple mission goal of providing camp activites and friendship for boys.

John H.
John Charles H7 years ago

What do you expect from an organization that was founded to counter act what Lord Baden Powell believed was a desperate situation,the preservation of the British Colonial Empire; soon to be picked up by ruling class Americans, to prolong not simply "white supremacy",but 'WASP' supremacy in their expanding empire. The original Boy Scouts would not have had as members: Jews, Asians, Irish,Slavs, Italians,and other 'degenerate' races. The Boy Scouts have always had a fascist paramilitary bent. Is it a surprise that both Boy and Girl scouts provide recruits for the military, especially in rural areas ? For those who don't know. Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, was one of the 'great' racialist leaders of his time,and mentored one of the more(in my opinion,racialist & devious leaders of the 20th century) Sir Winston Churchill. For those who forget,Churchill was very much a fan of the NSDAP or Nazi Party,well past 1936,was ardently opposed to the 'self determination of nations,which walked us into Vietnam,employed spies in Washington,who worked on various American political figure.Espoused ethnic cleansing,in among other places, the Sudan, Germany,the Middle East. How far does the apple fall from the tree ? Do the Boy Scouts really surprise you ?

Dorothy O.
Dorothy O7 years ago

I loved scouting! Loved the Girl Scout camps and camping, learning about nature.
Different groups with different leaders can certainly have a variety of outcomes. The Boy Scouts my sons went into HAD to have an ACTIVE dad, or the boys couldn't go. My ex was becoming alcoholic. I was busy with Girl Scouts for my daughter, so the boys dropped out. My daughter's leader wanted to start a younger troop, so we merged the older girls into another troop with leaders who were like prison wardens. My daughter and friends were treated badly. The head of the area scouts did what she could to make it better, but the girls walked out, there are always other groups to join. My daughter was very successful in a different club, tho' it had a "hard-nosed" leader, one who could balance "rules" with fun.
This country was founded by Christians, the Scouts were founded by Christians, so expect Christianity to be in the culture and organizations. When I was in Scouts, in the 1940's, I met Jewish girls who I enjoyed as friends. They learned about Christians. That's a good thing. Minorities can learn to blend while helping the majority to be open to other's differences. It depends on attitudes.
The military has changed since those days, the world is changing, population has doubled, people live longer, we need to keep the good ideas in front of people and remind them to save the environment and save ourselves.
Enforce controls on private groups as well as companies. Don't just condemn the groups

Justin G.
Justin G.7 years ago

i'm an atheist with a firm belief in civil liberties for all people and being an eagle scout helped me shape those beliefs. there is a disparity in scouting between troops that harbor leadership with more of an "outdoorsman" agenda, which is to emphasize camping and hunting, but with little emphasis on respect and conservation. there are also troops that have more of an "environmentalist" agenda that teach respect and conservation while enjoying the outdoors. i was a part of a large troop that was completely respectful of mother nature. i always had difficulty with the religious aspect of scouting, but some people are just overwhelmed by the vast spiritual spectacle of nature and it doesn't do much to deny the idea that there is a higher power. anyway, scouting can walk a thin line when it comes to these two perspectives and in the end it comes down to the leadership.

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch7 years ago

That was a typo! co-ed not co-es!

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch7 years ago

I wish I had known more about CAmpfire USA when my kids were young--those of you who have young kids or anyone who has money to donate look into Campfire USA(it used to be Campfire girls but now is co-es) They have an offical policy of non-discrimination and there main focus is on getting kids connected with nature. My fiance and I are renting a camp in Ohio to get married at for various reasons but one was we wanted our money going to a good cause--and I was very impressed with how things are done there. I did not have a good experience with the GSA and my oldest daughter --the local troop was extremely right wing Christian and would not allow any other viewpoints to be included. And there was NO nature oriented programs. I took her out of it.

Tierney G.
Tierney G7 years ago

I agree with Malcom B. The girl scouts and now the boyscouts have been tainted for quite a while. Sad to note that girlscout cookie sales benefitted the management and not the actual girl scouts. I was a girl scout many years ago and loved it but now I do not think so.