Earth First!

Radical environmental movement that debuted in 1981 when founder Dave Foreman (b. 1946) and others unfurled a 300-foot roll of plastic sheeting down the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. From a distance the dam appeared to have cracked.

EF!’s glory days came during the “Redwood Summer” of 1990 when hundreds of activists pounded spikes into tree trunks and sat in the limbs of redwoods to block logging in the Pacific Northwest. Its low point was a year earlier when Foreman and four others pled guilty to a reduced charge of conspiring to sabotage nuclear power plants and other facilities in Arizona, California, and Colorado.

Foreman soon disavowed the eco-terrorism or “ecotage” espoused in the influential Edward Abbey novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, and in his own Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. Most of the deep ecology movement in turn disavowed Foreman for welcoming AIDS and Third World starvation as antidotes to human overpopulation.

EF! picked up steam again in 1994 as a coalition of affiliated organizations rather than a single group, with local battles being waged under its banner against highway construction in Southern California, logging on national forest land in Iowa, and dam building in Quebec.

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