Durango has a gem in its midst. As a newcomer five years ago, I saw mention of Great Old Broads for Wilderness in the paper and thought its name a bit quirky. At my son’s nudging, I was intrigued to find out greatoldbroads.org was a national organization based in Durango with frontline involvement protecting wild lands.
Its newsletters showed dedication and humor, so it was not long before I launched on one of the group’s fundraising river trips. A noted regional author (with environmental passion) was along to read, discuss and hang out: impressive.
The history? Twenty-three years ago, five women (of a certain age) found themselves incensed by a headline attributed to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, saying wilderness areas were not a good idea because they were inaccessible to old people. Having just hiked days in Utah’s Escalante region, this band of friends decided to show that elders could make a difference for wilderness – even if or when “old people” were unable to get to these critical and amazing places. Wild lands have their own value: think watersheds, wildlife, tourism, outdoor education, renewal and beauty.
“Broadwalks,” with an emphasis on work projects, learning and hiking, are held several times each year. I have been to three regional ones in three years – all staged at locations with pending wilderness legislation or conservation issues. At each event, we heard talks and conversation from government personnel, other professionals, involved citizens and sometimes local activist groups.
Politicians are invited, but one party seems more inclined to show up or support GOB goals. I write and say more to politicians now because of GOB and do so with more background. Guys and younger women (Great Old Bros and Broads-In-Training) are plentiful among the tribe and welcome.
The two leaders of Great Old Broads, Veronica Egan and Rose Chilcoat are gems, too, but you would have to see them in action to have full appreciation. This region’s love and respect for nature and healthy lands is like none I have seen in my 40 years in Colorado.
Kristine E. Johnson