Earth First! is a radical environmental advocacy group that emerged in the Southwestern United States in 1979. It was founded on April 4, 1980 by Dave Foreman, Mike Roselle, Howie Wolke, Bart Koehler, and Ron Kezar.Today there are Earth First! groups in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States,Inspired by several environmental writings including, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, and Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, a small group of environmental activists composed of Dave Foreman, ex-Yippie Mike Roselle, Wyoming Wilderness Society representatives Bart Koehler and Howie Wolke, and Bureau of Land Management employee Ron Kezar, united to form Earth First!. While traveling in Foreman’s VW bus from the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in northern Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the group pledged, “No compromise in defense of Mother Earth!”.
The co-founders of the group were called to action during the second “Roadless Area Review and Evaluation” (RARE II) by the U.S. Forest Service, which they considered a sell-out by mainstream environmental advocates. The activists envisioned a revolutionary movement, with the goal to set aside multi-million-acre ecological preserves all across the United States. Their ideas drew upon the concepts of conservation biology, which had been developing for over twenty years by notable scientists like E. O. Wilson; however, mainstream environmental groups were slow to embrace the new science. These events and ideologies coalesced after a grueling hike, as the men were headed toward Albuquerque. After “Foreman called out ‘Earth First!’, Roselle drew a clenched fist logo, passed it up to the front of the van, and there was Earth First!”
Earth First! is available in the public domain via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported .