Wilderness Society (US)

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The Wilderness Society is considered a Big Green environmental group, one of the largest and most prominent in the world. It is a member of Natural Resources Council of America. It is an American organization dedicated to protecting America's wilderness, was founded in 1935 by Robert Marshall, chief of recreation and lands for the Forest Service, Aldo Leopold, noted wildlife ecologist and later author of A Sand County Almanac, Robert Sterling Yard, publicist for the National Park Service, Benton MacKaye, the "father of the Appalachian Trail", Ernest Oberholtzer, Harvey Broome, Bernard Frank, and Harold C. Anderson.[citation needed]

Critique Of TWS US

In their book, Washington Babylon, Ken Silverstein and Alexander Cockburn wrote that "the Wilderness Society was founded in 1930 by three early heroes of the environmental movement, Aldo Leopold, Benton MacKaye and Robert Marshall. MacKaye and Marshall were both socialists, who believed corporate-owned forest land should be seized by the federal government. Leopold was the father of modern forest ecology and author of Sand County Almanac, the classic book on "land ethics". Today's Wilderness Society with its cautious political approach and $17 million a year budget bears little resemblance to the lean and radical organizations started by Leopold and Marshall. The Society's board of directors is culled from the elite ranks of corporate American and the social register. In 1994, the board included John Bierworth (former CEO of Grumman International), David Bonderman (CEO of Continental Airlines), Caroline Getty, Christopher Elliman (Rockefeller heir) and Gilman Ordway (heir to 3M fortune)."[1]

They continued:

"The Society's staff spends most of its time raising and reinvesting money. Indeed, the membership development, operations and financial staff of the Wilderness Society is three times the size of its conservation staff. Even so, in 1993 the Society shoveled out nearly $2 million in contracts to outside telemarketing companies to do additional fundraising."
"An analysis of the Society's stock portfolio reveals an unsavory map of strange investments. Fore example, the country's self-proclaimed defender of America's last pristine lands owns thousands of shares of stock in [[Caterpillar],, Cummins Engines, [[John Deere],, [{Eaton]] and Ryder, corporations that build bulldozers, logging trucks, diesel engines, and other heavy equipment used to invade roadless areas."
"They also own investments in defense and energy companies, such as AMP, Inc., Baltimore Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison, FPL Group, General Electric, and Loral."
"The Society occupies sumptuous quarters on 17th Street in DC. The halls, dressed in original prints by Ansel Adams, amplify the man-made connection between nature's grandeur and plutocrats' splendor. According to its annual report, starting in 1997 the Wilderness Society will pay $6 million a year for the DC office--more than one-third its annual budget."


The Wilderness Society currently has over 300,000 members and supporters.[citation needed]


Governing Council

Accessed October 2008: [2]

(* = Member of Executive Committee)


Web: http://www.wilderness.org

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Ken Silverstein and Alexander Cockburn, Washington Babylon, Verso Books, April 1996, page 242.
  2. Governing Council, Wilderness Society (US), accessed October 5, 2008.