Wilderness Society honors ‘Idaho
Group convenes in Sun Valley
to plan future
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Members and staff of The
Wilderness Society convened in Sun Valley last week to honor a contingent of
Idaho-based environmental activists and generate momentum for a pair of Idaho
wilderness initiatives expected to be put before Congress in coming months.
The multi-day summit of the
governing council of the Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization came
to a climax Thursday night during a celebratory dinner at Sun Valley’s River
Run Lodge, as honorees doled out a series of passionate speeches about the need
for more designated wilderness areas in Idaho.
"We have the opportunity
to secure large parts of the dreams of Idaho conservationists," said Pat
Ford, president of the Idaho Conservation League’s board of directors.
Ford asked The Wilderness
Society to put forth an extra effort in the next year to urge members of
Congress to support anticipated legislation that would designate the
Boulder-White Cloud Mountains and the Owyhee Canyonlands in southern Idaho as
protected wilderness areas.
Journalist J. Robb Brady,
former editor and publisher of The Post Register in Idaho Falls, received
special recognition Thursday for his longtime position as one of Idaho’s
staunchest advocates for the protection of Idaho’s natural resources.
In receiving the Aldo Leopold
Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing, Brady praised The Wilderness Society
as "the national conscience of America" and broadly questioned the
environmental policies of President George W. Bush. "I’m not sure the
White House wants us all to have oxygen," he quipped, noting that he does
sometimes express support for Republican politicians.
Bethine Church—one of Idaho’s
staunchest environmentalists in her own right and the widow of U.S. Sen. Frank
Church whose name was added to the River of No Return Wilderness--issued the
award to Brady. She commended Brady for using "his pen as a sword to fend
off those who would destroy all that he holds dear."
William Meadows, president of
The Wilderness Society, in a written statement praised Brady for his willingness
to speak out on controversial issues.
"He has championed
designation of the Boulder-White Clouds as wilderness, argued against below-cost
timber sales, and urged protection of national treasures such as Yellowstone and
the Arctic Wildlife Refuge," Meadows said. "Robb frequently points out
the antics of the Idaho congressional delegation as they squander taxpayer funds
to support special interest groups bent on destroying the last of Idaho’s wild
The organization recognized
five additional Idaho residents as "environmental heroes." Awards went
Amy Haak, a specialist in
Geographic Information Systems technology who was recognized for providing
analytical support to Idaho conservation groups since 1990.
John Osborn, who since
1985 has served as the Sierra Club’s conservation chair for the Northern
Laird Lucas, an attorney
who has represented The Wilderness Society and various other conservation
groups in legal challenges in Idaho. In January, Lucas founded a new firm
called Advocates for the West.
Rick Johnson, who has
served as executive director of the Idaho Conservation League for the last
Pat Ford, founder of the
Boulder-White Clouds Council and ICL board president.
Meadows on Thursday offered
additional recognition to Gaylord Nelson, a longtime U.S. senator from
Wisconsin, the founder of Earth Day and currently a counselor to The Wilderness
Nelson, 87, said he is
disturbed at the level of partisan political gamesmanship that has come to
dominate the work of elected officials on Capitol Hill. "It disturbs me
that there is so much animosity in the political scene today, " he said,
noting that he saw much more compromise between the two major political parties
when he served as senator from 1963 to 1981.
Meadows said The Wilderness
Society—which currently boasts a nationwide membership of 225,000—remains
confident the organization can succeed in adding to the nation’s 106 million
acres of designated wilderness, despite a "tough" atmosphere in the
Jaime Pinkham, a member of
Idaho’s Nez Perce Tribe and a member of The Wilderness Society Governing
Council, closed the event by calling for a new outlook on how Western lands are
managed. "Our rewards are not recorded on a plat, they are recorded in the
land," he said.