Alaska Conservation Society
|Headquarters||College, Alaska; United States|
The Alaska Conservation Society was the first grassroots environmental conservation group in the U.S. state of Alaska. It was founded in 1960 to coordinate environmental opposition to Project Chariot, a plan to dig a harbor in Alaska's North Slope with nuclear weapons, and to fight the proposed Rampart Dam project on the Yukon River. Later, the society took a stance on the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, encouraging environmental mitigation during and after its construction, becoming a major factor in environmental policy within the state. The group operated between 1960 and 1993 and was superseded by the Alaska Conservation Foundation, which was founded in 1980 and still operates today.
In 1960, the Alaska Conservation Society was founded by Alaskan environmentalist Ginny Wood and her then husband, Morton "Woody" Wood, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in College, Alaska to bring together like-minded people in order to better organize opposition to two major projects in Alaska: Project Chariot and the Rampart Dam. The group hoped that its status as an organization "by Alaskans and for Alaskans" would allow its arguments to gain traction in places where speakers from the Continental United States had not. Celia M. Hunter, one of the group's founding members, became its first president.
The conservation society was organized into two groups: Alaska members, who had voting authority, and "associate" or non-Alaska members, who did not. By 1961, one year after its founding, the Alaska Conservation Society had about 300 members, 50 percent of whom were associate members. Thanks to widening coverage granted it due to its opposition to Chariot and Rampart, the group expanded to more than 600 members by 1965. The group's influence grew after Chariot and Rampart were canceled, a fact illustrated by the selection of Alaska Conservation Society president Ernst W. Muller as commissioner of the Alaska State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1975.
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