Erik Verduzco / For The Center for Investigative Reporting
Biologist Andrea Edwards inspects a Dudley's lousewort along a trail at the Boy Scouts' Camp Pico Blanco south of Monterey, Calif. The Boy Scouts have cut down old-growth trees at the camp and trampled specimens of the rare plant.
Expulsion from the Boy Scouts of America is a dishonor few Scouts endure. But that was the punishment imposed on Kim Kuska, a self-taught naturalist and former biology teacher who had been with the organization for more than 50 years.
His crime: an obsession with the rare, and unfortunately named, Dudley’s lousewort.
Since the 1970s, the Eagle Scout and adult Scout leader-turned-whistle-blower has worked to protect the plant from extinction at Camp Pico Blanco, a Boy Scout camp nestled in the mountains along the Little Sur River south of Monterey, Calif.
The camp is home to nearly 50 percent of all known specimens of Dudley’s lousewort, a flowering fern-like plant found in only three places in the world.
But over the past four decades, Scout officials and camp staff have threatened its existence repeatedly by harvesting old-growth trees it needs to survive, crushing some of the few remaining plants and introducing potentially competitive species. Under state law, it is illegal to harm a plant that is classified as rare.
Susanne Rust / The Center for Investigative Rep
Kim Kuska, a self-taught naturalist and former biology teacher, was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America last year. He says he was kicked out for exposing the Scouts' environmental transgressions. An official says it was because Kuska was planting lousewort seeds in places where the rare plant did not already grow.
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