Scouts offering Merit Badges for Environmental Destruction?

Scouts offering Merit Badges for Environmental Destruction?

Forget conservation, camping, and environmental stewardship. It seems capitalism rules at the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scout Councils throughout the country have set aside conservation causes in the pursuit of cash, but it seems particularly agregious out west. Here in Washington, the Pacific Harbor Council (located in Pacific County in Southwest Washington) hired a logging company to clearcut 12 acres of old second growth Douglas fir. Unfortunately, their quest for cash was so great they had the loggers overlook environmental regulations designed to protect endangered salmon found in an adjacent streams. According to an independent investigation of the act conducted by Hearst Newspapers for a detailed story on such practices, the scout council failed to leave a buffer along the stamgs of the stream. The buffer trees would have prevented, or at least reduced, erosion and sedimentation in the salmon stream.  The consultant hired by Hearst studied the clearcutting and found that the overcutting was clearly intentional, with the goal of getting maximum cash for the work. This pays off in spades, because even if caught, the fines are minor compared to the profits generated by the timber sales. Pacific Council isn't alone in this practices of  throwing away conservation plans in order to reap quick cash. Groups in Portland, Ore., Minneapolis, and even Lousiana are clearcutting sensitive areas. In fact, according to the Hearst report, Boy Scout Councils clearcut in or near protected wildlife habitat at least 53 times in recent years. One scouting leader said the groups had to do this because the organization's funding has declined ever since the many Boy Scout groups began reinforcing their policies prohibiting the inclusion of anyone who is gay or non-Christian. But clearcutting is not the worst offense. The council in the Monterey Bay area of California operates an old dam on the Little Sur River. And they operated illegally, killing endangered fish and mismanaging water resources, according to the records. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that state Fish and Game officials sought to halt use of the dam about 12 miles south of Carmel, off Highway 1, because it did not meet environmental standards. The Scouts, though, complained to then-state Sen. Bruce McPherson, R-Santa Cruz, and the senator agreed to let them continue using the dam provided they took precautions to protect the fish in the river. Mere weeks later, th National Marine Fisheries Service discovered evidence that Scouts had ignored the safeguards and  essentially stopped all river flow below the dam in order to fill the "lake" along side their Boy Scouts Camp. By "dewatered" the river they killed off threatened steelhead in CLEAR violation of the Endangered Species Act. Concerned about future violations, the federal officials sought to stop the Scouts from damming the Little Sur until the dam met standards. The Boy Scouts of America, promoted as an organization teaching young boys how to be good citizens and good environmental stewards, instead seems to be sending the message that might makes right, and that the environment nothing more than a resource to use in pursuit of profits. Read the full SF Chronicle report here.
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