Great Old Broads: Can see the forest for the trees


Meier, a mom in her 40s with three school-age daughters, is nowhere near retirement age, yet she’s on the board of an organization called Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a grass-roots group that consists mainly of elderly women who are determined to preserve undeveloped, roadless public lands across the country.

“I’m the youngest member,” Meier admits with a laugh, “but, really, you don’t have to be older or even a woman to be in this group. Today, there are Broads of all ages and both genders.”

The Great Old Broads got started 20 years ago, partially in reaction to a comment made by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said that the U.S. shouldn’t designate more open space as wilderness because the elderly wouldn’t have access without roads.

“The elderly don’t want to be used as an excuse to punch roads into the wilderness,” said the initial treatise of the Great Old Broads. They pointed out that older people are quite capable of enjoying and hiking into wilderness areas quite well, thank you very much — and even more important, even if they can’t get in there themselves, they still want to see wild places being preserved for generations to come.