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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 11 - 17, 2003


Wilderness Society honors ‘Idaho heroes’

Group convenes in Sun Valley 
to plan future

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 heritage."

The organization recognized five additional Idaho residents as "environmental heroes." Awards went to:

  • 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 Rockies Chapter.

  • 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 eight years.

  • 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 Society.

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 nation’s capital.

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.


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