|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
FROM AROUND THE BEND... In San Juan County By Ken Sleight March 20-22. Ed Abbey was the featured speaker. and Johnny Sagebrush, the featured musician. On March 21, six Earth Firsters drove to a locked gate on an access road to GlenCanyon dam. A 100 pound bundle was hefted over the fence and four men and a woman carried it 400 yards to the center of the dam while some 75 Earth Firsters watched from the Colorado River bridge. : Throwing the bundle over the edge of the dam, 300 feet of black plastic, that tapered from 12 to 2 feet in width and held together by 700 feet of rope and 1000 feet of duct tape, cascaded down the face of the dam. It created the wonderful impression of a crack growing in the concrete dam. On the bridge the protestors, hailed signs that read, “Damn Watt, Not Rivers.” and “Let it Flow.” At the parking lot Abbey spoke about the rape of the West, the cleansing of the Earth, and the freeing of the rivers... “And they took it away from us. The politicians of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, in cahoots with the land developers, city developers, industrial developers of the Southwest, stole this treasure from us in order to pursue and promote their crackpot ideology of growth, profit and power — growth for the sake of power, power for the sake of growth.” “Oppose. Oppose the destruction of our homeland by these alien forces from Houston, Tokyo, Manhattan, Washington D.C., and the Pentagon. And if opposition is not enough, we must resist. And if resistence is not enough, then subvert.” The Park Service Police and county officers then arrived to hustle Dave Foeman and ‘EARTH FIRST! AT 20! Earth First! celebrates it's 20" Anniversary this year. From its inception, Earth First! has been a unique, direct action, monkey wrenching and joyously odd group. Its Journal” has become a forum for the no-compromise environmental movement. But increasingly some Howie Wolke away for questioning while Johnny Sagebursh continued leading the group in singing: “Watt Went A'Courtin’” and “ Were You There When They Built Glen Canyon Damn?” and “This Land is Your Land.” Interest in the organization continued. On July 3-5, 1981, the first Round River Rendezvous took place. at the BLM river put-in campsite on the Colorado River, 22 miles upstream of Moab. Offered was a camp out, river running, swimming, cookouts and lots of booze. Pets had to stay home. The leaders cautioned against bringing Coors beer and not to buy Texaco products as Cal Black had a dealership. Musical instruments and American flags were encouraged. of its members feel that it and the movement may not be radical enough. But like most environmental groups, Earth First! is in the process of reevaluating itself..And in pondering the ways and means, I remember well the formative years of Earth First! "The Day James Watt Posed for Ansel Adams" Edward Abbey had already published his Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness in 1968 and the book was a huge success. Then in 1975, he wrote and published The Monkey Wrench Gang. On reading his manuscript, I knew he had another winner. This perhaps set the stage for future activism as many persons became admirers and devotees of Abbey because of his writings. And many took their own course and created a movement that included monkey wrenching and direct action activities. This is not new; the Luddites showed them how. Earth First! (at first there was no exclamation point attached to the name) came out with its first newsletter on Nov 1, 1980. Dave Foreman on sending me a copy outlined the vision of the new group: s “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.” “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.” “The core of the EF Platform is a national system of ecological preserves....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.).” The platform listed some 39 preserves. One of them selected was a 10 million acre Escalante Preserve. which would include parks, monuments, national forests, and BLM lands around the Colorado River in southeast Utah. “Lake Powell will have to go but a portion of the dam should remain standing as a monument to man's stupidity.” It further called for no nukes, dismantle all existing nukes; no uranium mining; no strip mining; no more power plants (fossil fuel, nuke, hydroelectric); no more dams: no more roads on public lands; and a complete ban on recreational. use of ORV's.. Earth First! started with a “select list of eco-radicals”. who ran the outfit, chartered local affiliates, approved membership applications, and set policy. The initial “Circle” included my good friends, Dave Foreman, Bart Koehler, Susan Morgan, Mike Roselle, and Howie Wolke. The group had no officers or other hierarchal structure. It was not incorporated; it did not have special mailing privileges, did not have tax-exemption for contributions, and did not have a constitution or bylaws. The group did “encourage individual or ad hoc group creative action by our members and sympathizers.” Regarding dams, the initial “Circle,” proposed dismantling many of them. “Like pimples on a chocolate-eating teenager's face, dams and other destructive water projects keep popping up across the landscape...It's time to start tearing down a few!...We will zero in on the most awful of them all: Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Foul” During this period, the Sagebrush Rebellion was proceeding at a fast clip. James Watt, the Great Nemesis, had been chosen as Reagan’s Secretary of Interior. The Circle believed that “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 group demanded that “the Grand County 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 demagouges [sic] remain unpunished, every cretin in the West who fancies him or herself a politician will consider similar action.” The Circle suggested “that lovers of the West consider individual action in response to the Sagebrush Ripoff. If you need inspiration, read the Monkey Wrench Gang.” Action was swift. A Spring Equinox Celebration was held at the Glen Canyon dam on A flyer touted a Sagebrush Patriot Rally at Panorama Point in Arches National Park on July 4: JOIN EARTH FIRST! AND ED ABBEY IN CELEBRATING THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS. FEATURING ED ABBEY, KEN SLEIGHT, JOHNNY SAGEBRUSH, DAVE FOREMAN, ARTFUL GOODTIMES, AND A HOST OF OTHER UNSAVORY CHARACTERS! And the Circle organized the “Great Earth First! Road Show” featuring songs by Johnny Sagebrush (Bart Koehler), speeches by Dave Foreman, and coordinated by Karen Tanner. The Show came to Moab in November, 1981 and was performed on the upstairs floor of the Poplar Place. Later, Foreman compiled a book of essays, Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. “For entertainment only,” the book details how to put earth-moving equipment out of commission, and how to devise other procedures to safeguard the Earth. In April 1983, Earth First! joined in the fight against the construction of a nuclear waste dump next to Canyonlands National Park, and threatened a human blockade if the Department of Energy ever began work on an exploratory shaft. And a short time later, on May 18-19, 1983, Earth First! protested the observance of the the 20" anniversary of Lake Powell, a showdown with Interior Secretary James Watt, the keynote speaker at a Page luncheon. While Earth First! protested, a press conference was held in the afternoon by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Dell E. Webb Recreational Properties, and: other dignitaries aboard a tour boat. Special invitations had been given the press and to numerous travel editors. A stacked deck. Then the activists did their thing. As I've written previously of this event in the Zephyr, I'll not repeat the story at this time. Someday I'll lay the whole thing out in a future book. Suffice to say,I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to speak at this showdown and to vent my frustrations anew at the rape of Glen Canyon. Hail to Earth First! in its first twenty years. May it do well in its next hundred. This increased radical environmentalism hasn't always set right with main stream environmental groups who merely lean on conventional forms of negotiation and persuasion. Earth First! oversteps the boundary of legal means, they say. Earth First! counters that the opposition, most often the government backed by corporate interests, are themselves out to destroy the very environment to which some main stream groups only pay lip service. When all attempts at negotiation and persuasion fail, when the Earth, God's creation, is being raped and destroyed as was done in Glen Canyon, what alternatives are left? War?.