On the evening of December 1, 1980, more than 500 people crowded into the Palladian Room of Washington’s Shoreham Hotel. They came to celebrate the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), “the greatest conservation bill in history,” in the words of Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus. President Jimmy Carter would sign the act the following morning. Most of those who attended the Shoreham party were youthful activists associated with one of more than three dozen organizations, headed by the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Audubon Society, and the Friends of the Earth, which had formed a formidable partnership, the Alaska Coalition, and pushed the ANILCA legislation. A large ...

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