Dave Foreman: Earth First! Member and Organizer

In this interview with Dave Foreman, we learn about Earth First!'s "deep ecology" philosophy and the future of grassroots environmentalism.

| January/February 1985

 In 1980, from out of the ranks of such staid and respected environmental organizations as The Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth, a controversial "non-organization" took form, embracing the name and unflinching doctrine of Earth First! (always with the "!"). 

Earth First! endorses just about any nonviolent means of protecting what remains of the American wilderness, including, unofficially, at least a form of last ditch environmental activism called monkeywrenching. 

While the Earth First!ers call themselves deep ecologists and no-compromise environmentalists, their critics (of whom there are many) hold that radicals is a more appropriate tag. Either way, Earth First!'s brand of environmental activism sometimes gels results where more moderate and socially acceptable approaches fail. And EF! gets public attention for the causes it supports, with its name, slogans, philosophies, tactics, and members names and faces showing up in the media with increasing frequency. 

MOTHER began watching EF! closely more than a year ago, when we interviewed writer and outspoken environmentalist Edward Abbey, an avid supporter of the group. Then, lo and behold, when we interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, we discovered that he, too, is an Earth First!er. Our curiosity aroused, we scrutinized back issues of the Earth First! newspaper to learn more. Then, this past summer, staff writer David Petersen sat around the camp fire with a contingent of Earth First!ers at a rendezvous in the scenic and environmentally troubled Cabinet Mountains of northwestern Montana. 

As it turned out, these "terrorists" (as they were described by a local newspaper) impressed our man in Montana as sensitive, intelligent and devoutly committed to the cause of saving what little pristine beauty there is left in the lower 48 states. 

After the meetings, speeches and rap sessions were concluded, our writer interviewed one of Earth First!'s founders and driving forces, Dave Foreman. We were surprised to learn of this "radical" environmentalist's impressively nonradical background. 

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