Broadly speaking

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and the group shows no signs of slowing down. That this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act only serves to make the celebration all the more meaningful.

With members nationwide, Great Old Broads is made up of environmental activists and outdoor enthusiasts who bring to their causes a unique and effective perspective. While not limited to women – men are called great old bros – it is nonetheless a women’s group.

But, as the name suggests, age factors in as well. Its website says the organization was “conceived by older women who love wilderness.” Young women are called “broads in training.” Great Old Broads was started by women hikers in 1989 to challenge Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s assertion that wilderness is not accessible to older Americans. And its mission remains to use “the voices and activism of elders to preserve and protect wilderness and wild lands.”

Proudly female and unapologetically mature, the Broads address issues that in other hands too often become unnecessarily confrontational. They do so by bringing to their concerns a mix of energy, wisdom, caring and humor. They characterize their approach as “one of perseverance and determination, rather than militance and contentiousness.”

It is a sensibility that befits the Broads. And they believe, probably correctly, that it garners more respect for their efforts.

It is an anniversary to celebrate, and may the Great Old Broads – and the Wilderness Act – see many happy returns.

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