The Earth First! Newsletter before it was named the Earth First! Newsletter.
To: The Hardcore
From: Howie Wolke, Dave Foreman
Re: EARTH FIRST
The time has come to inject new vigor, new tactics, and an old-fashioned radical ideology into the increasingly stagnating environmental movement. We are tired of making political compromises in order to look “reasonable”. We are tired of always being on the defensive. And we are tired of letting a bunch of corporate, bureaucratic, and political madmen force the environmental movement to justify protecting a few meager remnant tracts of America’s wild country.
Someone needs to speak for the Earth! Someone needs to tell America what kind of land preserve system we would have had if this nation had been developed over the last 200 years with an ecological conscience. Someone needs to forcefully state the importance of preserving the biological/ecological diversity of our planet. And someone needs to say that maybe it’s not too late.
EARTH FIRST is the name of our new organization. We are hoping to have a solid set of proposals (a “platform”, if you will) completed and ready for the national media by late next fall. The platform will be largely composed a national system of ECOLOGICAL PRESERVES. We have already drawn up a preliminary draft list, partially from our knowledge of landforms and ecosystems, and partially from the “Ecoregions of the United States” map by R.G. Bailey (1976) which was distributed by the Forest Service with their illegal RARE II EIS.
As you can see, we will finally be doing what our enemies have been accusing us of doing for years: attempting to create wilderness! Within each reserve, all existing developments (roads, towns, nukes, etc.) will be obliterated by the same implements of technology that put them there. We intend to help nature reclaim the earth. Each preserve will be large enough to function as a complete ecosystem, with all known components reintroduced where applicable, ie. wolves, bison, etc.
Finally, we would like to assure you that we are absolutely serious. We even believe that our platform could easily be justified economically, socially, and biologically within existing American society without even causing its downfall. At the very least, our goals will be to:
- Make existing environmental groups and proposals look more reasonable.
- Keep the environmental movement from straying too far from its ideal; in other words, from becoming too conservative.
- Raise the ecological conscience of the American people.
- Instigate a widespread radical environmental movement in the 1980’s that is not afraid to use civil disobedience, demonstrations, etc. as tactics. Earth First will remain quasi legal. There is great potential here in tying into the infantile anti-nuke movement.
Remember, few social movements in history have succeeded without a radical arm. Our time has come.
Enclosed is a draft platform. If you’re interested, please look it over and make a few comments. We’d also like a few of you to make a commitment with your work and your names to Earth First. We’re looking for a core group of 7 people (give or take a few) to run this undemocratic organization. Please send your comments to [omitted].
The Newsletter of EARTH FIRST
Vol 0 Number 0
There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not many the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express
yet cannot all conceal
– Lord Byron
Consider this the first issue of the EARTH FIRST Newsletter (made possible by a grant from A. Cosmos Blank), but also consider it fairly confidential and not for general circulation or publicity. In it I would like to throw out various rambling ideas, questions, and internal strategizing. This issue is going to only 50 people or so who have expressed real interest. Since I’m recovering from a worse-than-usual vasectomy, I’m in the mood to do this first issue.
First of all, at the Round River Rendezvous, we did have the organizational meeting of EARTH FIRST and selected a national coordinating committee which is to be known as THE CIRCLE OF DARKNESS. Initial members of the CIRCLE are: Howie Wolke, Wyoming; Bart Koehler, Wyoming; Bob Langsenkamp, Colorado; Mike Roselle, Wyoming; Susan Morgan, Colorado; Randal Gloege, Montana; Ron Kezar, New Mexico; Sandy Marvinney, On The Road; Mike Comola, Montana; Cosmos Blank, Texas; John Koehler, South Dakota; and Dave Foreman, New Mexico. That’s 12.
I would like a written verification from each of the above that they do indeed want to be on the CIRCLE. There are also a few others who may want to be on the CIRCLE but we should keep the group as small as possible. If, however, anyone else is filled with a burning desire to be a CIRCLE member, let me know. All members of the CIRCLE must be approved by a vote of the rest of the CIRCLE. I would suggest a three-quarters majority. We do want at least one person from the East on the CIRCLE. Members of the CIRCLE OF DARKNESS must be willing to be publicly identified with EARTH FIRST and cannot be employees or officers of straight conservation groups (either national or local). The CIRCLE OF DARKNESS is the governing body of EARTH FIRST and will set policy (administrative and issue), approve memberships, approve state or local groups, and run the outfit, as well as select new members of the CIRCLE.
We also selected an unofficial and secret group of advisors to the CIRCLE. This group will be known as LA MANTA MOJADA and currently consists of eight people who are involved with moderate conservation groups. LA MANTA MOJADA will advise us, act as a link with the conservation establishment, and restrain our more egregious and gonzo ideas. LA MANTA MOJADA is confidential and its existence should not be spread about. I am sending out a separate memo listing the members of LMM to the CIRCLE and LMM. Again, I will want written verification from each of these eight people. If anyone else wants to be on LMM, let me know. All members of LA MANTA MOJADA must be approved by a vote of the CIRCLE.
We talked a little about officers of the CIRCLE and selected none. There are various alternatives: the CIRCLE can be anarchistic without officers and operate by the de facto leadership of whoever wishes to exert him/herself, we could have a relatively weak group of officers, we could have the regular type of officers and setup, or we could come with something new and gonzo. What’s your preference? We do at least need some kind of treasurer to handle the money. We have already received some contributions and we should get more along with membership dues soon. Who will volunteer? If we don’t get a volunteer, I’ll take the money and go to Mexico. Do we want a bank account or should the treasurer just keep it all as cash? Do we want to come up with a weird title for the treasurer (keeper of the filthy lucre) or just call him/her treasurer? How should our reimbursement policy work?
Susan Morgan, I believe, gallantly volunteered to be editor of this newsletter. I am doing this one because I’m sitting here with sore gonads and nothing else to do. But if Susan is still willing, I’ll turn all the rest over to her. Are you, darlin’? This issue is Vol 0 Number 0 because of its confidential nature. It is printed with special ink that, if xeroxed or otherwise copied, will vanish thereby releasing a poisonous gas that will kill or maim anyone within two hundred yards. For your own safety, do not copy or further disseminate this issue. I’ve tentatively entitled the newsletter NATURE MROE from Byron’s poem but it could also be called MAN THE LESS, PATHLESS WOODS, LONELY SHORE, or anything else (ENERGY COUNTRY NEWS?). What do you like? Maybe we should have a contest to name it. A bottle of Tooth’s Sheaf Stout to the winner. Susan, if she does accept this mission, can figure out the rest.
We also need a letterhead and press release forms. These should have our logo (green fist). I would suggest that we use a quote from Byron (I love not man the less, but nature more) on the letterhead. Instead of having an address on the letterhead, I’d suggest we leave it blank and let the correspondent use his/her own. How about, though, listing the members of the CIRCLE and their states on the left margin? Who’ll take charge of designing these and getting them printed? Should we get a PO box somewhere to be the official permanent address of EARTH FIRST? Where? Who’ll do it?
What are we going to do about the basic horseshit of organization? I think all of us would prefer to avoid the entanglements of the system as much as possible but what of it do we need for tax-exemption, etc.? Or do we even want to be tax-exempt? Do we copywrite [six] the name EARTH FIRST? Do we ever – gag – want to incorporate? Write – yuk – a constitution or bylaws? Do we try to get a bulk mailing permit (if we ever get more than 200 members)? Is there anyone who wants to handle these concerns of Babylon?
A membership form is at the end of this newsletter. I have arbitrarily set membership at ten bucks. However, membership fees may be waived for low-income types if they pledge action for EARTH FIRST. Let’s not go overboard on this though. If you have the lettuce, send it in. All of you know what it costs to get a new organization going. If you don’t send in a membership application (with or without money) you don’t get no mo’ stuff from EATH FIRST. Contribution in excess of $10 are most welcome. I will try to draft a general EARTH FIRST brochure including membership application next month and send it out for review. Do you have suggestions for it? Do you want to review the draft? Do you want to help on layout and graphics? Included in this brochure will be our statement of principles. Any ideas on this? Future members by their signature will be required to endorse this statement of principles. By the way, membership in EARTH FIRST is confidential and our membership will be kept secret.
We need ideas for projects for EARTH FIRST. A list of some ideas is enclosed. Send in others to me as well as comments on those listed. All projects will be approved by the CIRCLE. These projects are the life blood of the outfit. Remember humor.
As you know, our Wilderness Preserve list is the focus of our platform. Howie is trying to clean up the list that went out in our first memo. Send him your suggestions for additional or alternative preserves and comments on the original 35. We need volunteers to adopt certain preserves and produce a map, write-up, etc. for each. As soon as we have this preserve list in good shape we can release it to the media. If you do not have a copy of the original list of preserves and wish one, send me 40c unless you’re broke and I’ll shoot a copy off to you.
I am planning several river trips next year and hope that active members of EARTH FIRST will be able to go with me. The trips are Rio Grande, Texas, in March; San Juan, Utah, in May; and main Salmon, Idaho, sometime in summer. Each trip will last about a week and will coincide with the full moon. Let me know if you’re interested. Also, Howie and Roselle are coming down here in September for a 100 mile backpack through the Gila Wilderness with Ron and me. This might be a good opportunity for some of the leaders of EARTH FIRST to get together in maybe northern New Mexico for a meeting. Let me know if you’re interested (at least those of you in Colorado).
Earth First Projects
Legal Defense Fun [sic]
1. Creation Myths Suit – Radical christians have filed suit in several states demanding that Genesis be taught in high school biology classes along with evolution as a theory of the origin of life. EARTH FIRST will sue demanding that other creation myths also be taught (such as the Earth being carried around on the back of a giant turtle). I have just ordered a book on native American creation myths, by the way, Bob.
2. RARE II – what is the statue of the Montana suit?
3. Overgrazing – file suit against the Tonto National Forest for allowing the overgrazing which led to the floods this winter in Phoenix. An Arizonian needs to take this on.
1. EARTH FIRST Calendar – This is a gonzo calendar. The pictures (photos or drawings) should be suitably bizarre. I have one of me standing on my raft pissing into Lake Foul, for example. We will list all EARTH FIRST religious holidays of course (full moon, solstices, aphelion, etc.) and conservation dates (Aldo Leopold’s birthday, signing of the Wilderness Act, etc.), but we particularly want gonzo dates like Sitting Bull’s victory over Custer, Mt. St. Helens eruption, death of Las Cruces Jeep Club Leader Fred Huff, the outbreak of the Black Death in London, and the Teton Dam collapse. You get the idea. Send me stuff. We could make big bucks from this.
2. Radical Foundations – does anyone know of any that might fund us? Mother Jones had a short piece about some recently. We need someone in charge of fund raising. Who’ll volunteer?
3. Ads – When $ is available, we should take out classified ads in Outside, Mother Jones, etc: “Tired of Namby-pamby Environmental Groups? Join the Radical Wilderness Preservation Organization! EARTH FIRST. Write for info.”
4. Membership Brochure – We should get our brochure printed as soon as we can and distribute it at conservation meetings, hearings, Earth Day festivities, backpacking stores, and in response to inquiries from our ads.
We should get reprints of the Dry Country News piece on Victorio Day for distribution. Other past events also lend themselves to such action as well: a plaque renaming Oliver Lee State Park in New Mexico the Judge Fountain State Park, a monument to the heroes of the Johnson County War in Wyoming, etc. You all ought to have some great ideas.
We should have press releases ready to go on various issues. For example, we could have one proposing that state lands be returned to the Federal government. The next time there is any noise about the Sagebrush Ripoff, we send it out to all the media and get some attention. This type of thing should have a little background information with it. Langsenkamp might be able to work the stuff up for the Sagebrush issue. The rest of you should be able to come up with other good ideas. We also need to develop a good media list to send releases to. Press releases are one of the major ways we can gain public exposure and notoriety. Will someone volunteer to coordinate our media hype.
1. Fire Gary Wicks – how about a campaign to demand that Gary Wicks, BLM State Director in Utah, be fired for screwing up the wilderness review in Utah?
2. Prosecute Cal Black – how about a campaign to demand that Cal Black and other southeast Utah politicos who bulldozed a road into a WSA to celebrate July 4 be prosecuted and sent to jail? We should have had a press release ready on this, by the way.
For the water projects bill in 1981, EARTH FIRST could present a petition to Congress, signed by thousands nation-wide, demanding that Glen Canyon Dam be dismantled and Lake Foul drained. Done right, we could get mucho publicity and attract new members as well as give the porkbarrel boys a kick in the cajones.
How about a brochure by our own G. Gordon Liddy Professor of Political Activism, Bob L., on ways of thwarting wilderness destruction that might not be found in the polysci textbooks? Of course we would not advocate any of this – it would be for entertainment purposes only …
These are merely some ideas to get your depraved brains going. The CIRCLE should develop a detailed list of projects for us to choose from. Once we develop a list and set priorities, we can assign projects to EARTH FIRST members.
The only way EARTH FIRST will get off the ground is if each of you sit down some evening, drink a beer, read a few pages from Hunter S Thompson, Ed Abbey, Jerzy Kosinski, or VS Naipal to get in the mood, and respond to the questions in the newsletter. Tell me what you think. How should we be organized? What will you do? What do you think of the projects suggested? What projects can you suggest? Send me names and addresses of others who might be interested. Get dithyrhambic!
One final note: Howie Wolke and I should probably apologize for our egregiously obnoxious behavior at the Round River Rendezvous. We also should probably apologize for our egregiously obnoxious behavior the next time we get together. Still more finally: ask Howie, Mike Roselle, or me about the christian crusader that attacked us in the Cowboy Cafe in DuBois for being involved in witchcraft …