The Unkindest Cut : Hands Off Boy Scout Forest Land

Graphic by Larry Ray / The Rag Blog.

I hit the damned ceiling when I learned that ‘the Boy Scouts have sold at least 34,000 acres of land to logging corporations, allowing big business to level forests that were supposed to have been preserved for children to learn about and enjoy nature.’

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / February 7, 2009

In the early 1950’s the camaraderie of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorer Scouts was the glue that held together small communities like the one in which I grew up in South Texas. In 1953, I got to see America on an old troop train car used to transport Boy Scouts from South Texas via rail from Corpus Christi, Texas to Irvine, California for the World Scout Jamboree, and back. We stopped at Carlsbad Caverns, The Grand Canyon, The Great Salt Lake and other such national landmarks en route. None of us would have ever been able to visit these places otherwise.

No drugs or gangs back then. Young parents were just starting to grab hold of the new, exciting 50’s, raising their kids in a new era of hope and prosperity following WWII. Scouting was good, down to earth, and no tort lawyers were involved in limiting how kids went out played under the guise of “protection.” We were rough and tumble. Camping trips resulted in bee stings, minor burns and scrapes and one buddy even survived using a big poison ivy leaf to do his toilet business in the bushes. Someone suggested paying a nickle each to get to see the huge water-balloon sized blisters that erupted from his buttocks. But we all survived, learning to be decent kids, to respect nature, and to be polite to elders among some other good early life lessons.

So understanding all that, you will not be surprised that I hit the damned ceiling when I learned that a recent Hearst Newspaper investigation has revealed that ” . . . the Boy Scouts have sold at least 34,000 acres of land to logging corporations, allowing big business to level forests that were supposed to have been preserved for children to learn about and enjoy nature.”

Credo Mobile, a 24 year old respected civic advocacy group, has gone to bat to stop the land sale for clear cutting. Credo has the established and respected clout to take on madness like mindless trustees blithely selling off land dedicated to Boy Scouts and intended to instill a respect for nature and the environment.

You can add your voice as well. This kind of Bush-era total disregard has to stop . . . particularly when it is wholesale rape of the environment at the level of the Boy Scouts of America.

Here’s the petition and link so you can let your voice be heard. Hope you will take two minutes and join in.

When you think of the Boy Scouts, the first thing that comes to mind is not clearcutting. It may surprise you to learn, then, that a recent investigation by Hearst Newspapers showed that the Boy Scouts have sold at least 34,000 acres of land to logging corporations, allowing big business to level forests that were supposed to have been preserved for children to learn about and enjoy nature. Additionally, some of the logging in question may have violated state rules. According to the Hearst investigation, one council in Washington state allowed an area to be logged without leaving trees to protect a stream which is home to endangered salmon. I just took action to tell the Boy Scouts of America National Council to end its practice of allowing forests to be logged and endangered species to be put at greater risk. I hope you will, too. Please have a look and take action. Click here.

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

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7 Responses to The Unkindest Cut : Hands Off Boy Scout Forest Land

  1. Maybe we should remember how the native-American views all of this; but then again, we are all ‘guilty’….I worked 3 years in the paper industry; it sickened me to know the trees that ‘died’ just so we’d have something to write on.

    Then again: I started to remember that books were part of our educational process; trees ‘give up their lives’, not only for homes but paper – as a

  2. Denise Duggan says:

    I agree with you that the values taught by Scouting are monumentally important.. perhaps more so in this age than ever before. However, before you hit the ceiling again I suggest you think through the Hurst newspaper article’s claims. And I would invite you to read a differing viewpoint on my website,

  3. Anonymous says:

    Might be a good time to mention that The Boy Scouts discriminate on religious grounds by having a policy that excludes people that don’t believe in god. Presumably this applies to Buddhists also because they recognize no god.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Actually the Boy Scout leadership only recognizes CERTAIN god(s) – obviously not those of the Celts or other traditions who fear, revere, and honor the spirit of trees.

  5. I have read the Boy Scout National Council press release. I have seen its spin, and I visited Denise’s Walt Disney tour web site. There are many other ways to get the “black” in the Scout budget’s bottom line you refer to. But clear cutting Scout owned land is not the way to do it, in spite of the carefully crafted BSA press release.

    Philmont is supposed to be a rough authentic wilderness. I took a two-week southbound expedition backpacking Mexican burros at Philmont when I was 14 years old. Justifying “acceptable” percentages of clear cutting is the mantra of those who have whittled away at the few pristine areas left in America. Forest management invokes some selective thinning, but no clear cutting.

    What a great example we are setting for the future stewards of what is left of America wilderness. Will it seem OK to today’s Scouts, as they become future leaders, to continue clear cutting because that was what happened to what they will remember as “wilderness?”

    Protected wilderness must remain just that: protected. It is not possible for protected forest land to be “mostly protected” any more than it is possible to “be just a little pregnant.”

    There are no truly valid reasons why for-profit logging companies should be able to carve out their logging roads back into wilderness areas and cut down and haul out truckloads of trees. These operators leave their bulldozed swaths of clear cut trees and gouged out, temporary bare roadways that become major erosion pathways with profound negative environmental consequences. I can’t find any mitigation and protection evidence from these clear cut contractors. The same right wing National Council folks that are keeping out kids they don’t feel make the cut because of religion, sexual orientation, or similar black-ball categories are the same ones looking at fattening the operational Scouting budget by contracting out the clear cutting of land donated to them. Land that was intended to remain wild and untouched. The Press release’s example of allowing logging which produced revenues of $140,000 so a scout camp roof could be replaced for a cost of $20,000 is pitiful justification for the rape of the land. I guess they are giving a Big Business merit badge now?

  6. Here is a suggestion. Find out the whole story about this logging. Yes, scouts sell trees on their land. In most cases they are not selling the land for development. New trees are planted. They grow where the old trees were. It’s an amazing thing.
    Our sensibilities have gotten so warped that we think a tree (which will be replaced) is more important than the development of our next generation.
    Perhaps if more people supported the Scouting program, which is probably the best program out there for young men, the Scouts would not have to sell as much of their wood.
    There is a large push to eliminate organizations like Boy Scouts because of their traditional beliefs. Help them help kids to learn to become men.

  7. C Van Milligen says:

    This reminds me of the ancient philosophers who would argue about the number of teeth in a horses mouth but never examine the horse.

    If you look at the Boy Scout Ranch timber issue on the site you will see great numbers of dead and dieing trees as well as significant local fire risk. These trees must be removed and fire breaks installed.

    It is difficult to make any money from harvesting distressed trees especially since there is virtually no local timber processing industry.

    This is an environmentally responsible project brought on by issues beyond the control of the Scouts.

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