Americans Benefit from Elders’ Conservation Efforts
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a nonprofit, public lands organization based in Durango, Colorado, leverages the voices and activism of elders to preserve and protect wilderness and wild lands. The group’s forte is raising public awareness of the importance of wilderness and alerting the public to inappropriate development and management decisions affecting it. When its members talk with the conviction of life experience, people tend to listen, says Veronica Egan, executive director since 1992.
Established in 1989 on the 25th anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act, these old broads are on a mission to preserve public lands, the places they love to hike, for their grandchildren. Broads in 22 local chapters, or Broadbands, in 18 states join with other environmental groups to preserve national forests, grasslands, monuments and parks. Most of the land they monitor is in the American West, with its vast roadless areas. The most common impacts are on archaeological sites and riparian lands that contain irreplaceable biological diversity. The women are vigilant about monitoring, documenting and reporting unauthorized activities.
Wally White, a county commissioner of La Plata, Colorado, considers Egan’s work “unsurpassed.” She reminds him of the tradition of Native Americans, who have always relied on elders for guidance and leadership.
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