"My experience is that many people are impressed and supportive of the radical militant actions that we do. ...I make no secret of my militant activism, arrests etc; [...]
...we do break the law. [...]
In a few weeks I, and 50 others are off to jail. ...I do what I do because of a "pure, true love for the Earth."
- Mike Kaulbars, 1990
Earth First! takes protests to new level Public arrests, office invasions all part of group's quick-hit tactics (Waterloo Region Record, December 1, 1990)
Mike Kaulbars, a founder of the Earth First! chapter in Ottawa, says his group has about 20 "hard-core" members, and perhaps 80 who are drawn in for special events such as protests.
Earth First! (Discover the Networks)
Earth First! (EF) was founded in 1980 in the Arizona desert as an alternative to "namby-pamby environmental groups” that, in EF's view, had failed to adequately protect the environment against the predations of corporate and commercial interests. EF's ideological roots sprouted from militant ad hoc eco-organizations, such as the Mesa Defense Fund and the Tucson Eco Warriors, that had lurked in the Arizona wilds in the 1970s. The modus operandi of these predecessors consisted of random acts of destruction (or "monkeywrenching,” a term coined by radical environmentalist guru and author Edward Abbey) aimed at any symbol (such as billboards, houses, roads, etc) of human encroachment on the wilderness. [...]
EF pledged to engage in "ecotage," the commission of illegal and anonymous acts of sabotage. The organization's tactics and objectives were heavily influenced by the book Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. Authored by EF co-founder Dave Foreman, this publication provided instruction for downing power lines, trashing heavy machinery and equipment, and otherwise interfering with the work of land developers and loggers. [...]
EF also endorsed tree-spiking (hammering thick metal rods into tree trunks), a tactic advocated in Dave Foreman's book Ecodefense, which urged activists to "[s]pike a few trees now and then whenever you enter an area." A California mill worker named George Alexander had his jaw shattered in 1987 when a shard from a spiked tree, splintered by his band saw, ricocheted into his face. But in response, Dave Foreman claimed that "the real destruction and injury is being perpetrated by Louisiana-Pacific and the Forest Service in liquidating old growth forests." Judi Bari in a 1990 memorandum announced that “tree-spiking must be renounced by Earth First! … [because] the alienation caused by tree-spiking, not to mention the danger, be it real or imagined, was harming our efforts to save this planet.” Nonetheless, EF! continued to sell Ecodefense and to embrace the militant anthem, "Spike a Tree for Jesus." [...]
In 1992, the Earth First! Journal published an article that endorsed "dressing up as a hunter and going out to shoot other hunters." Similarly, the 20th Anniversary issue of the Journal included a cartoon with the following punch line: "Trees are for hanging. Kill a developer." [...]
EF!'s militant message was supported by a Harvard-educated Montana recluse named Ted Kaczynski (later to be known as the "Unabomber"), who mailed dozens of letter bombs, killing three and wounding 28. After raiding Kaczynski's cabin in 1996, FBI agents discovered several volumes of the Earth First! Journal. Also found was a publication called Live Wild or Die, which was financed by EF!'s co-founder Mike Roselle and featured a catalogue of the environmentalist movement's most hated, the so-called "Eco-F*cker Hit List." Prominent on this list was the Exxon oil company. A February 2, 1994, article in the Earth First Journal! erroneously claimed that a firm called Burson-Marsteller was in charge of Exxon's public relations efforts in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Kaczynski is believed to have sent the mail bomb that killed Thomas Mosser, an executive with Burson-Marsteller, at his New Jersey home December 10, 1994.
Declaring that it believes in "using all the tools in the tool box," EF! today affirms its continued commitment to "monkeywrenching." In 2001, EF! activist John Stephens said that arson attacks were on the whole "a positive thing" for environmentalist groups to undertake.
Earth First! (Activist Cash)
Earth First! (EF!) is a "warrior society" that takes a "by any means necessary" approach to "defending mother earth." The group declines to participate in the democratic process, preferring instead to damage, disable, and destroy the property of its ever-growing list of enemies. EF! targets include, but are by no means limited to, loggers, ranchers, and farmers -- especially those who grow genetically modified crops. Earth First!ers' crimes include assault, arson, and untold acts of sabotage. [...]
The legend of EF!'s founding involves five friends hanging out in the desert, drunk and high. They were inspired by Edward Abbey's book The Monkeywrench Gang, which chronicles a gang of environmental zealots who sabotage oil, mining, and farming interests. A different story, one that doesn't get told as often or as gleefully, was outlined by author Ron Arnold in Trashing the Economy:
"Defectors from the environmental movement have told us that Earth First! founder Dave Foreman was approached by the Sierra Club and his employer, the Wilderness Society, in 1979 with an offer to fund a new extremist point group for the movement. It would serve the function of making their own demands look more reasonable … Defectors say that Foreman made the deal by himself in a comfortable Wilderness Society office, and accepted the offer on the condition that funding would be steady and adequate, and that his participation was a limited 10-year deal." [...]
In his own book, Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Foreman brags: "A major accomplishment of Earth First! … has been to expand the environmental spectrum to where the Sierra Club and other groups are perceived as moderates."
Mike Kaulbars of course is pleading "innocent" for founding a chapter of an eco-terrorist organization. He could have founded a chapter for any number of "peaceful" environmental groups such as the Sierra Club but instead choose to directly associate himself with a well known organization directly responsible for maiming others, sabotage and terrorism,
Militant Environmentalists Planning Summer Protests to Save Redwoods (The New York Times, June 19, 1990)
Their group is Earth First and their cause is the environment, but not in the way of the Sierra Club or the Audubon Society. Members of Earth First are militant environmentalists. Some sit on platforms to block the cutting of trees; others advocate sabotage against developers and loggers. [...]
Earth First members have little use for tactics of the Sierra Club and other mainstream groups - they call them ''couch potato environmentalists'' -who concentrate on letter-writing campaigns, lobbying and lawsuits.
''I believe in confrontational demonstrations,'' said Lisa Bregger ...She said every political movement needs a vanguard willing to engage in zealous and even illegal action. ''There is a need for an extreme element.'' [...]
Mr. Cherney, 33, was born in New York City and moved here in the mid-1980's ''to learn to live off the land and to save the world.'' He became the movement's troubadour, ...He has advocated sabotage activites against developers and loggers, a practice he calls ''ecotage.'' [...]
Earth First in the past has endorsed tree spiking, the placement of long metal spikes in trees to discourage their being cut down. Loggers and mill workers have been injured when their saws hit these spikes. [...]
Mr. Cherney has expressed sympathy for the sabotage of developers' bulldozers and for an anonymous group that recently downed power lines near Santa Cruz, causing an extensive loss of power. ''The sabotage of equipment is no different than the French sabotage of the equipment of Hitler,'' he said. ''It was self-defense.''
Vandals Force Closing of New Golf Course (The New York Times, August 11, 1991)
Vandals identifying themselves with the militant environmental group Earth First have forced the closing of a new golf course by writing messages on the greens.
Using a chemical that the authorities have yet to identify, the vandals wrote, "Earth First!," "Hayduke lives" and "Ron you pig" on 11 greens and several tees at the course sometime last week, Undersheriff Sky Walters said Friday.
Hayduke was one of a group of eco-terrorists in Edward Abbey's book "The Monkey Wrench Gang." The name Ron apparently referred to Ron Allred, president of Telluride Ski Resort Inc., which owns the course. [...]
Three weeks ago The Telluride Times Journal received a letter signed "Earth First" saying the development's high-speed ski lift had been sabotaged. The letter writer said a welding gas that weakens metal had been applied to the lift cable.
Man Gets 6 Years in Plot to Damage A-Plants (The New York Times, September 8, 1991)
A member of the militant environmental group Earth First has been sentenced by a Federal judge to six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to damage nuclear power and weapons plants in three states. [...]
Mr. Davis acknowledged his actions and told the judge that he took responsibility for them. But he also said he had been trying to protect himself and others against what he saw as the potentially deadly danger of nuclear plants.
Even today Earth First! includes instructions for eco-terrorism on their journal's website,
Monkeywrenching (Earth First! Journal)
Monkeywrenching: Ecotage, ecodefense, billboard bandits, desurveying, road reclamation, tree spiking, even fire. All of these terms describe the unlawful sabotage of industrial extraction and development equipment, as a means of striking at the Earth's destroyers where they commit their crimes and hitting them where they feel it most—in their profit margins.
Monkeywrenching is a step beyond civil disobedience. ...It is one of the last steps in defense of the wild, a deliberate action taken by an Earth defender when almost all other measures have failed. [...]
Monkeywrenching is not mindless—targets are carefully picked for their strategic value. There is a time and a place for everything. Knowing when not to engage in sabotage is equally of value. For in stance, monkeywrenching during public civil disobedience jeopardizes all who are present.
Although some individual Earth First!ers may be active monkeywrenchers, the Earth First! movement officially neither advocates nor condemns monkeywrenching.
Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching (available from the Earth First! Journal) contains detailed information on monkeywrenching techniques as well as discussions of security, safety, strategy and justification.
From Mike Kaulbar's Facebook Photos,
Caption: "Visiting an Embassy to discuss logging and first nations; for some reason their gates were all locked shut..."