At a meeting marking the conclusion of Boone and Crockett Club’s 125th anniversary year, held at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver on Dec. 7, attendees revisited the Club’s first order of business at its inception–saving Yellowstone Park for all Americans.

Founded by Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell and other concerned sportsmen in 1887, the Club used social activism and the legislative process to protect Yellowstone’s unique landscape and resources, all while instilling a new conservation-over-exploitation consciousness in North America.

“Yellowstone, our first national park, was being plundered by poaching, mining and timber interests, and a railroad was being proposed through the park that would accelerate the abuse,” stated Club president, Bill Demmer of Lansing, Mich. “At the time, conservation wasn’t even a word in the English language and the thought of wise use without waste was counter to a philosophy of unlimited take without regard for the future, which was prevalent at the time.”

Billed as America’s Playground, Yellowstone was weeks in travel away from population centers in the East. To save it, the Club used the media to romanticize the wonders of Yellowstone and expose the American public to its plight.

Through these efforts, people who had never seen Yellowstone, or even knew what a national park was, came to realize that this special place belonged to them, and they were determined to protect it. An outcry of public support reached the halls of Congress, and legislation proposed by Boone and Crockett members to expand the size of the park, secure its borders, and to send the U.S. Calvary to enforce conservation laws, passed easily. The Yellowstone Protection Act was passed in June 1894.

Through social activism, the Club was able to achieve a watershed decision to elevate conservation–and establish a mode of operation that the Club has used ever since.

“Our politicians work for the people that hired them,” Demmer affirmed. “The abundance of wild places and wild things we all enjoy today is largely the result of citizen engagement insisting on beneficial policies and legislation. Although the Club is most known for its big game records, educating the public and enlisting their support for conservation policy has been our main thrust–and that will continue. Our wildlife and the habitats that support them depend on an informed citizenry.”

The new Farm Bill, up for Congressional approval now, is yet another example of powerful conservation legislation that the Boone and Crockett Club helped draft and advance with the support of the people. The bill impacts many things of great importance to all Americans, including the quality of our food, the quality of life for those who provide our food, and the quality of our air, water, land and wildlife.

“One challenge for us in crafting a new Farm Bill–the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act–has been to continue and improve conservation and forestry programs under major budgetary constraints. In doing so, so far, 23 conservation programs have been consolidated into 13 programs and conservation and forestry spending has been reduced by $5.6 billion over the next 10 years. Even with this reduced spending, we are still moving towards having one of the best Farm Bills for conservation and forestry our nation has ever seen,” Demmer concluded.

Logo courtesy Boone and Crockett Club

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