Vanity Fair reports on the outcome of a story on the elite Bohemian Grove Club in California. In May 2009, Vanity Fair published contributing editor Alex Shoumatoff’s “Bohemian Tragedy,” a story about his old Harvard buddy John “Jock” Hooper’s David-and-Goliath struggle to stop the Bohemian Grove Club’s savage timber harvesting plan. The agenda would have allowed the notoriously secretive and influential organization, which opened in 1872 and controls some 2,700 acres of forest 75 miles north of San Francisco, to cut an unprecedented 1.7 million board feet of wood each year.
To fight the proposal, Hooper, a fourth-generation Grove member, resigned from the club, an all-male society comprising former U.S. presidents, East Coast bluebloods, a handful of major Hollywood celebrities, and several high-profile billionaires. He also enlisted the help of the Sierra Club, and on March 14 of this year, California Superior Court judge Rene Chouteau ruled that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had violated the state’s environmental law in approving the plan. The club’s foresters have been sent back to the drawing board and must now come up with a far less destructive proposal.
Hooper cautions that the battle is not over, quoting the late environmentalist David Brower’s famous observation that victories for the environment are always temporary but defeats are always permanent. “I hope the Bohemian Grove Club has realized that the public all over the countryhas been galvanized by this terrible plan, and we’re not going away,” Hooper says. “The V.F. article played a big role in getting this travesty out there.
Shoumatoff, who went to extraordinary lengths to report the piece under cover, is thrilled by the news. “That’s what I’m here for, to do what I can for the world,” he says. “Anything my writing can do to help protect its rapidly disappearing biodiversity — just whistle.”