THE EARTH'S STORM TROOPERS

As Pendley made speeches in the West, "timbermen, miners, ranchers would come up to me and say they'd had sabotage and that no one was treating it as sabotage on a national basis, that they were looking at it as if they were disparate acts of vandalism. So we established the clearinghouse for people to contact us and serve that function."

An attorney born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Pendley once worked as a deputy assistant secretary for the Department of the Interior. In his current job, he said he's observed a wide variety of destruction by environmentalists.

"In Bellingham, Washington, they did several hundred thousand dollars' worth of damage to heavy equipment. In Garfield County, Utah, they shot 21 cows at close range that were grazing on public lands and in the same incident burned three line cabins to the ground used by the rancher.

"My view, frankly, is that these people are most terrifying to people in the West who recreate on public lands or depend upon the businesses on public lands. Four out of ten jobs in Oregon are related to the timber industry. Emotions are so high. Some of these towns have 26 percent unemployment. There was a McDonald's in Oregon that advertised for help and 230 people applied for the position."

The environmentalists, according to Pendley, who've succeeded in shutting down logging in old-growth forests to protect spotted owls and ancient trees, are responsible for this economic depression.

"Any use of public land except for their rendezvous is wrong," said Pendley.

Though he did not have an exact count, Pendley said that approximately 50 incidents of sabotage have been telephoned into the Mountain States hot line.

Pendley--and others concur--claims his reports only reflect a fraction of the eco-tage being committed.

In his seminal 1990 book, Green Rage, radical environmentalist Christopher Manes estimated that large timber operations like Weyerhaeuser and Louisiana-Pacific alone have sustained nearly $10 million of sabotage to heavy equipment.

"In 1987, the Forest Service commissioned Bill Hull, a special agent in Region 6 (Oregon and Washington) to carry out a nationwide survey of Forest Service personnel to get some idea of the amount of eco-tage being carried out," wrote Manes. "The results were kept confidential, despite several attempts by radical environmentalists to obtain the information under the Freedom of Information Act. Hull freely admits that he would prefer that the statistics never be released, because he would not want ecoteurs to know `just how much havoc they're causing.'"

The typical incident of sabotage in Oregon averaged $60,000 in damage and ranged upward to $100,000, claimed Jim McCauley in an interview with Manes. A forest policy analyst for the Association of Oregon Loggers, McCauley said there were dozens of such acts in 1989 alone.

Manes concluded that the cost in destruction by militant environmentalists was $20 to $25 million per year.

With these kinds of numbers, you can understand why the FBI thinks the Prescott case against the defendants is so critical.

You no longer have to ask yourself why the government is so intent upon making an example out of the co-founder of Earth First!, Dave Foreman.

You do, however, have to consider something else.
When you discuss the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement or any other organization the FBI identifies as politically violent, you know that you are dealing with isolated phenomena. No one watching the SLA on television was inspired to take up arms with Tanya.

But if official estimates are correct, then hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been captured by the vision of Earth First!.

More than a century ago, federal troops hanged John Brown because of his destructive obsession with slavery. The example of his corpse, however, did not dampen the disgust of Brown's countrymen with the condition of blacks in the South. The underground railroad ignored the laws holding that blacks were private property, much as Earth First! ignores the laws holding that bulldozers are likewise private property.

Even when you view Earth First!'s activities through the eyes of its detractors, even when you recognize that there are perfectly obvious reasons why the prosecution of this case has proceeded as if on a mission, questions linger: Why are there so many people out in the wilderness carrying on like banshees? Will the destruction stop if there are convictions?

To be continued

The stakes are life, death and the American Way.

Wright claims that Earth First! members operate as strong-arm goons for more mainstream environmental groups.

With these kinds of numbers, you can understand why the FBI thinks the Prescott case against the defendants is so critical.

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