PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Local Boy Scouts of America councils across the United States have sold thousands of acres of forest to timber companies for logging, Hearst Newspapers reports.
Five newspapers carried out an investigation that found dozens of examples in the past 20 years of Scout councils logging and selling land donated by people who wanted it to be preserved in its natural state and used for camping and similar activities. Some Scout properties that have been clear-cut contained vulnerable watersheds and wildlife.
"In public, they say they want to teach kids about saving the environment," said Jane Childers, a Scouting volunteer in Washington State. "But in reality, it's all about the money."
Eugene Grant, board president of the Cascade Pacific Council in Portland, Ore., defended the sales, noting that the Boy Scouts' ban on homosexuals and atheists has cost the organization donations and members.
"The Boy Scouts had to suffer the consequences for sticking by their moral values," Grant said.
A review of 400 timber harvests by the five newspapers found that Scout councils had logged 34,000 acres since 1990, and that more than 100 councils, about one-third of the total, had sold timber -- and 26 had done so in areas near protected wildlife habitat.