Earth First! Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1

Samhain Nov 1, 1980
Vol 1 Number 1

Many workmen
Built a huge ball of masonry
Upon a mountaintop
Then they went to the valley below,
And turned to behold their work.
“It is grand,” they said;
They loved the thing.

Of a sudden, it moved:
It came upon them swiftly;
It crushed them all to blood.
But some had opportunity to squeal.

– Stephen Crane

Like Pallas Athena springing fully armed from the brow of Zeus, EARTH FIRST enters the wilderness fray …

“What!?” you say. “Another wilderness group? There are more wilderness groups than plague fleas on a New Mexico prairie dog! I already belong to nine of the damn things. Why another one? Why EARTH FIRST?”

Because we’re different.

EARTH FIRST is unique. As a national wilderness preservation organization, we are the only ones to say:

  • Protection of some of our remaining wilderness is not enough. Protection of all of it is not enough. Not only does EARTH FIRST support wilderness designation for all Forest Service RARE II areas and BLM roadless areas, we also believe that in order to preserve the ecological integrity of our country, it is time to recreate wilderness: identify key areas, close roads, remove developments, and reintroduce extirpated wildlife.
  • No more dams! And while we’re at it, let’s tear a few down (like Glen Canyon and Hetch Hetchy for openers).
  • We will not make political compromises. Let the other outfits do that. EARTH FIRST will set forth the pure, hard-line, radical position of those who believe in the Earth first. We are not in competition with more moderate conservation groups nor do we wish to criticize them.
  • Lobbying, lawsuits, magazines, press releases, outings, and research papers are fine. But they are not enough. EARTH FIRST will use them, but we will also use demonstrations, confrontations, and more creative tactics and rhetoric. It’s time to be passionate. It’s time to be tough. It’s time to have the courage of the civil rights workers who went to jail. It’s time to fight for the Earth first.
  • But don’t think that we’re just a bunch of humorless fanatics who have found a new true-believing cause. We laugh a lot, too. We agree with Waylon Jennings who sings, “I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.” And our founders are some of the most experienced wilderness activists in the country.

Read on, buckaroo.

Earth First Platform

The core of the EF Platform is a national system of ecological preserves. We have drawn up a draft list based on the ecoregions of the United States. Within each preserve the developments of man will be obliterated and the area will be returned to nature. Each preserve will be large enough to function as a complete ecosystem with all known components reintroduced where applicable (bison, wolf, grizzly, etc.). We believe that these preserves will not have a nationally significant impact on the economy or our standard of living but that they are the minimum required if the United States is to have a healthy land community. In addition to the preserves, the EF Platform includes other demands for reasonable land management. We are interested in comments on the Platform as well as suggestions for additional Preserves and volunteers who will do more detailed work on each. All acreages are approximate.

  1. NORTHERN MAINE PRESERVE: Expand Baxter State Park to include the Allagash and St. John’s Rivers in a 5 million acre wilderness. Most of this land is uninhabited and would only require closing logging roads and acquiring land currently “owned” by timber companies.
  2. PINE BARRENS PRESERVE: 1 million acres in New Jersey including the Atlantic coastal plain.
  3. SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN PRESERVE: Expand Great Smokey Mountains National Park into a 3 million acre wilderness.
  4. EVERGLADES PRESERVE: Expand the park north to Lake Okeechobee for a total of 5 or 6 million acres. Few people would be dislocated and the whole watershed would be protected.
  5. SOUTHERN BOTTOMLANDS PRESERVE: About 2 or 3 million acres of southern floodplain forest, pines, and hardwoods. Possibly along the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers in southwest Alabama.
  6. ATCHAFALAYA PRESERVE: 2 million acres of swamplands in southern Louisiana.
  7. DECIDUOUS FOREST PRESERVE: 3 million acres of deciduous forest straddling the wild Ohio River! A good location might be along the Ohio/West Va. border north of Huntington and including much of the Wayne Nat’l Forest. Much reclamation work required but recovery is rapid in this area.
  8. OAK-HICKORY/PRAIRIE PRESERVE: about 1/2 to 1 million acres of this transitional zone in Illinois.
  9. OZARK PRESERVE: 2 – 3 million acres of oak-hickory, other forest types, and wild rivers in Arkansas and Missouri.
  10. TALL GRASS PRAIRIE PRESERVE: At least 3 million acres probably around the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas. Total wilderness including reintroduced free-roaming bison, wolves, grizzly, etc.
  11. SHORT GRASS PRAIRIE PRESERVE: a similar 3 million acre Preserve. A possible location would be the western Dakotas.
  12. SAND COUNTY PRESERVE: 1 million acres in central Wisconsin in honor of Aldo Leopold.
  13. HILL COUNTRY PRESERVE: 1-2 million acres in the oak woodlands and rangelands of the Edwards Plateau of Texas.
  14. BIG THICKET PRESERVE: 2 million acres. Long live the Ivorybilled Woodpkr!
  15. SOUTH TEXAS BRUSH COUNTRY PRESERVE: 1 million acres south of San Antonio. Ocelots and jaguarundis.
  16. CHIHAUHAUN DESERT PRESERVE: expand Big Bend National Park into a 3 million acre wilderness along the Rio Grande.
  17. GUADELUPE ESCARPMENT PRESERVE: 1 million acres of limestone canyons and caves in SE New Mexico and Texas.
  18. WILD MISSOURI PRESERVE: 2 million acres of prairie and floodplains in Montana. Of course, we’ll have to drain the Ft. Peck Reservoir.
  19. CENTRAL IDAHO PRESERVE: Reunite the Selway/Bitteroot with the River of No Return and throw in the Sawtooths for a 7 million acre wilderness.
  20. GREATER YELLOWSTONE PRESERVE: This would include all the National park and Forest lands around Yellowstone. A few roads like Ashton-Flag Ranch and Cody-East Yellowstone would be closed but we’d let most of the existing roads and developments remain. We’ll let ’em have access to Old Faithful.
  21. BOB MARSHALL/GLACIER PRESERVE: Close the Going to the Sun road and the road along the south boundary of the park.
  22. RED DESERT PRESERVE: 2 million acres of high desert, sand dunes, buttes, and reclaimed dirt roads in southwest Wyoming.
  23. BIGHORN BASIN PRESERVE: 1 million acres in northern Wyoming.
  24. SAN JUAN PRESERVE: expand the Weminuche Wilderness in southwest Colorado to 2 or 3 million acres for a good representation of southern Rockies.
  25. ESCALANTE PRESERVE: Including parks, monuments, national forests, and BLM lands, this 10 million acres around the Colorado River in southeast Utah would be similar to the one proposed by Leopold and Marshall in the late ’30’s. Lake Powell will have to go but a portion of the dam should remain standing as a monument to man’s stupidity.
  26. GREAT BASIN PRESERVE: beginning at Cecil Garlan’s property line in Calleo, Utah, and rising over the Deep Creek Range into Nevada, this 10 million acre wilderness will protect part of the Great Basin.
  27. GRAND CANYON PRESERVE: 4 or 5 million acres including Grand Canyon, Parla, Kaibab Plateau and the Arizona Strip.
  28. OWYHEE PRESERVE: 4 million acres of the high desert and Owyhee Canyons in Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada.
  29. ALVORD DESERT: 2 – 3 million acres of the Oregon High Desert.
  30. GILA/BLUE RANGE PRESERVE: 4 million acres in New Mexico and Arizona including Gila Wilderness and Black Range and Blue Primitive Areas.
  31. SIERRA MADRE PRESERVE: 2 million acres in SE Arizona and SW New Mexico.
  32. SONORAN DESERT PRESERVE: 5 million acres in two units divided by I-10 in southwest Arizona centered around Cabeza Prieta/Organ Pipe Cactus and Kofa Game Range.
  33. SONORA/MOHAVE TRANSITION PRESERVE: 1 million acres south of Kingman, AZ.
  34. MOHAVE DESERT PRESERVE: 15 million acres in the California Desert but we’ll allow I-10 and 40 to remain so Californians can escape the smog.
  35. SOUTHERN COAST RANGE: 1 million acres as a refuge for the condor.
  36. SIERRA NEVADA PRESERVE: 6 million acres from the Central Valley including Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite to the Owens Valley and the White Mountains. We might be willing to allow one or two roads to remain.
  37. OLYMPIC PRESERVE: 2 – 3 million acres of the park, forest, and coast.
  38. NORTH CASCADES PRESERVE: 5 or 6 million acres from Snoqualmie Pass north to Canada. Ross “Lake” Dam will have to go.
  39. COAST RANGE PRESERVE: 4 or 5 million acres from the Redwoods to Kalmiopsis in California and Oregon.
  40. The entire island of Hawaii (or a more suitable island).
  41. No more development in Alaska, period!
  42. Wilderness designation for the moon (it’s already suffered ORV abuse).
  43. RARE II Alternative J.
  44. All BLM roadless areas designated wilderness.
  • No nukes, dismantle all existing nukes.
  • No uranium mining.
  • No more stripmining.
  • No more power plants (fossil fuel, nuke, hydroelectric).
  • No more dams (and a list of those to be dismantled).
  • No more roads on public lands.
  • A complete ban on the recreational use of ORV’s.


Poetry must be in advance of action. – Rimbaud

How We Operate

We believe that an organization’s soul is revealed by the way it is organized. And since we don’t accept the legitimacy of the corporate state world that is destroying the magic of the planet from the Urals to the Rockies, from the Pacific to Antarctica, from the Amazon to the Outback, neither do we play their games in our organizational structure. EARTH FIRST is directed by the Circle, a select group of leading eco-radicals. They run the outfit and charter local affiliates. They approve membership applications and set policy. EARTH FIRST has no officers or other hierarchical structure. We are not incorporated. We do not have special mailing privileges. We do not have tax-exemption for contributions. We do not have a constitution or bylaws. We encourage individual or ad hoc group creative action by our members and sympathizers. If you generally agree with the EARTH FIRST Platform and want to work with other women and men to try to protect the earth instead of playing organizational games, join us!

Not blind opposition to progress, but wide-eyed opposition to progress!

The Circle

The current members of the Circle (with background information for identification purposes only) are:

A. Cosmos Blank – Iowa – wildlife photographer, naturalist

Dave Foreman – New Mexico – writer and photographer – former Southwest Rep and Washington Issues Coordinator for The Wilderness Society

Randall Gloege – Montana – university professor – former Northern Rockies Rep for Friends of the Earth

Bart Koehler – Wyoming – songwriter, performer – former Wyoming / Dakota Regional Rep for The Wilderness Society

Susan Morgan – Colorado – television station manager – former Educational Director for The Wilderness Society

Mike Roselle – Wyoming – roughneck, cook – former Yippie leader

Howie Wolke – Wyoming – wilderness guide and outfitter – former Wyoming Rep for Friends of the Earth

We are seeking a few additional members for the Circle, particularly women and people from the East or West Coast.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed …

– W. B. Yeats

What Others are Saying About Earth First

What I like about EARTH FIRST is the Monkeywrench elan, the warrior society spirit missing from the robertrule heavy established groups or the consensus chaos of anti-nuke coalitions.

– Colorado

I think I love it.

– Washington, DC

I am interested in becoming involved with EF except for the fact that it seems much too moderate, comprised of apathetic panty wastes too uncommitted to take a firm stand and too willing to compromise. A proper elite extremist radical group dedicated to the good of the universe cannot have such narrow constraints. Sure, there was the standard old motherhood and apple pie call for lunar wilderness designation. Pretty safe, noncontroversial, bland, mashed potatoes kind of issue. But there was no mention of black hole preserves, quasar parks or buffer zones for nebulae refuges. If EF breaks out of its fledging conservative mold and becomes more aggressive and progressive, I will be happy to consider active membership.

– Colorado

Earth First Issues

In addition to agitating for the EF Platform, we are interested in various other issues. Several tentative projects follow. We would like your reaction to these and whether you think they are good ideas or if you would like to be involved in any of them. We are also interested in additional suggestions for EARTH FIRST issues.

Damning the Dams

Like pimples on a chocolate-eating teenager’s face, dams and other destructive water projects keep popping up across the landscape. We think conservationists have been fighting proposed dams for too long. It’s time to start tearing down a few! EARTH FIRST is compiling a list of the more environmentally destructive and economically egregious dams in the country and will propose that they be dismantled (such as Ft Peck, Hetch Hetchy, and Tellico). Please send us your suggestions for this modest list (no more than two or three hundred). We will zero in on the most awful of them all: Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Foul. We are starting a nationwide petition campaign demanding the dismantling of the dam and the draining of Lake Foul. The petition will be presented to Congress during their consideration of the water projects bill next year. Other fun and games are planned, too. If you would like to help recreate a few wild rivers, let us know.

Sagebrush Rebellion Succeeds!

Only the most naive ever believed that the true intent of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion was to gain title to the federal public lands in the western states. This was both a smokescreen and an extreme position to set the limits of discussion. The actual purpose of the Sagebrush Rebellion was to emasculate the Bureau of Land Management and return to the old Bureau of Livestock and Mining days. The revolters also hoped to cow conservationists, the Forest Service, the Washington politicians, and to encourage local and state politicians to make stronger anti-environmental statements. They have admirably succeeded. We could learn something about tactics from Cal Black and Dean Rhodes.

EARTH FIRST is launching a two-pronged counterattack. First of all, we propose that the state lands be returned to the federal government. We will prepare fact sheets on the economic and environmental benefits of this, and the mismanagement of these public lands by state land offices. Then we will begin to campaign for the introduction of bills in Congress and the state legislatures to transfer the state lands to the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies.

Secondly, we will demand that the Grand County (Utah) Commissioners who sent the flag-flying bulldozer into a BLM wilderness study area on July 4 be personally prosecuted under all applicable laws. These yahoos belong in jail. BLM, with its tail tucked between its legs (it doesn’t even have a tail in Utah), did essentially nothing to prevent the incursion and now is doing little to redress the crime. As long as these damagouges [sic] remain unpunished, every cretin in the West who fancies him or herself a politician will consider similar action. We also would suggest that lovers of the West consider individual action in response to the Sagebrush Ripoff. If you need inspiration, read the Monkey Wrench Gang …

Earth First Calendar

As a fundraising project and to gain notoriety, EARTH FIRST plans to publish a calendar. We are seeking droll or gonzo photographs or artwork (river runners wallowing in mud, someone urinating on a dam, pagans around a May pole, etc.). We also are looking for commemorative dates (some selected already include: June 5 1976 Teton Dam collapse; July 16 1979 Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd sink pirate whaler Sierra; Oct 30 1948 Denora, Penn., killer smog). Other dates we are looking for are: first Model T off the assembly line, gasoline hits $1 gallon, Cuyahoga River catches on fire, and some date for Ned Ludd. If you have suggestions, send them in (with a reference, please). Be as bizarre as you wish (like the Jan 15 1919 flood of molasses that drowned 21 in Boston or Oct 23 4004 BC 9AM Man created by Jehovah according to Bishop Usher). Earth worship dates (full moons, Sabbats) will be listed. We would like the first issue of the calendar to run from Samhain, 1981, (Nov 1) to Samhain, 1982.

Earth First Winter Gathering

Interested in getting together with other EF people to plan issues strategy? Well, if not that, how about getting away from the snow? Getting drunk? Enjoying the wilderness? We are tentatively planning an EF gathering sometime this winter (winter solstice?) in the southwestern desert (Big Bend, Kofa?) or Mexico (Pinacate, Sonora coast?). Also Dave Foreman is planning several float trips for EF leaders in 1981 (share food/gas) (Big Bend, Yampa, Dolores, Desolation, San Juan, Salmon). If you’re interested, let him know. Give your time and place preference for the winter gathering.

Earth First Membership and Newsletter

Why’d you get a copy of this newsletter? We got your name off a bathroom wall in Juarez. If you’d like to get another one, we need to hear from you (unless you’re already a member). Membership in EARTH FIRST is open to those generally agreeing with the Platform. Send us money (ten bucks is a good figure unless you can send more). If you are broke and plan to be active, you can join for nothing. Our membership list is kept entirely confidential and all EF mail is unmarked (to protect your reputation). Because of our anarchistic structure a member can participate at any level she/he wishes and really have a voice in the gang.

This first issue of the EARTH FIRST NEWSLETTER was edited by David Foreman and Howie Wolke. […] Susan Morgan […] will edit the next issue (in about 2 months). Articles, poems, artwork, etc. are welcomed. Feel free to show this newsletter to friends, neighbors, fellow inmates, or the FBI.

Happy Trails

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