Joseph W Penfold

Joe Penfold - IWLA's Longtime Washington Voice For Wilderness 

Joseph W. Penfold (1907-1973)

Named western representative for the IWLA in 1949, Joe Penfold became the League's conservation director in Washington, DC in 1957, a position he held until his death.

Perhaps Penfold's most lasting legacy is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was the result of a 1962 report issued by the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Council. This council, conceived by Penfold and on which he served by Presidential appointment, was created in Congress in 1958, thanks to legislation that Penfold drafted. 

Penfold was a strong voice for wilderness, but one not stuck on dogma. During a large 1971 Washington DC conference on wilderness, his was a lone voice in support of setting aside less than pristine lands as wilderness, while the rest of the conservation community vocally abhorred the idea. He warned his colleagues that the day would come when the only way to have wilderness in some parts of the country would be to rehabilitate impacted lands. His prediction, though scoffed at then, soon came true. In 1973, Congress passed the Eastern Wilderness Act, allowing the creation of wilderness from suitable human-altered lands. 

For years, Penfold reported the League's activities in Outdoor America on its "Washington Page." With a writing style that subtly went beyond pure reporting, he prompted members to action while tweaking reluctant politicians.