Earth First!, an environmental group, has been a leader in developing tactics to fight against what its members consider the exploitation of the environment. Environmentalism became popular in the late 1960s, and by the 1970s the environmental movement comprised a series of national and grassroots organizations which lobbied on behalf of the environment. Foremost among these organizations were the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. Besides having large national memberships, they had an army of lobbyists in Washington, D.C., who were working to pass environmentalist legislation. They were successful in the passage of several important pieces of legislation protecting endangered species. By the mid-1970s, however, many environmental activists had come to believe that these organizations had become entrenched bureaucracies more interested in compromise with the resource industry than in fighting for the environment. It was a 1977 report, the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II, which proposed only 15 million of the 62 million acres in the national forests be protected from resource development, that triggered a revolt by the activists in the environmentalist movement. Refusal of the national environmentalist groups to fight this review written by the Forestry Service infuriated many rank-and-file environmentalists. One of those disturbed by the growing cooperation between the environmental organizations and the resource industry was David Foreman, a Washington lobbyist for the Wilderness Society. He resigned his post as a lobbyist and moved to a new job in New Mexico.
Five political activists founded Earth First! on April 3, 1980, to fight what they deemed the exploitation of the environment. On a ten-day wilderness outing in the Pincacte Desert in Mexico, David Foreman, Ron Kezar, Bart Koehler, Mike Roselle, and Howie Wolke decided to launch a new organization to serve as a militant alternative to what they perceived to be the ineffectual policies of the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. They believed that these organizations had sold out to business interests. All of the founders were veterans of the environmentalist movement except Roselle, who had been active in several radical left-wing political organizations. Another shared experience was their admiration for the eco-rebels in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975). These activists wanted a grassroots group that would take an uncompromising militant stance on the environment and be willing to use civil disobedience and guerrilla tactics. The motto for Earth First! was to be “No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth.” They wanted to restore the wilder-
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Publication information: Book title: Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups. Contributors: Stephen E. Atkins - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 89.
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