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Founder of Earth First 3/8 Disavows Organization

August 14, 1990

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) _ One of the founders of Earth First 3/8 is leaving the radical environmental group because he believes it is being pulled too far to the left, he said in a report published Monday.

Dave Foreman, 42, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat the group has been tilted beyond its environmental ethic into a ″leftist″ arena by ″yippies and hippies.″

Foreman, who once supported Republican Gov. Barry Goldwater, said he doesn’t want any hard feelings with his fellow environmentalists.

″I just want a no-fault divorce,″ Foreman said.

Foreman’s disavowal seemed to threaten a split within Earth First 3/8, a loose-knit movement that hasn’t got a formal membership list but circulates a monthly journal to at least 15,000 people.

Foreman maintained that the movement’s emerging leaders, including the Northern California promoters of the Redwood Summer campaign to disrupt logging, are ″more interested in the wildness within than the wildness out in the forests″

He said he began to pull back from his highly visible role in Earth First 3/8 a few years ago, partly because of his disenchantment with the growing influence of activists like movement co-founder Mike Roselle of Berkeley and Judi Bari of Mendocino County.

″I’m not feeling we share the same style,″ Foreman said. ″We have very different strategies.″

Earth First 3/8 is generally split into two factions, one of which wants to stick to the original goal of disrupting activities seen as harmful to nature. The other, based in Northern California, prefers more traditional peaceful protests but also would broaden its activism to wider social issues.

Several followers and key organizers, including Foreman, are either under indictment or face possible criminal charges stemming from pipe bombings, tree spikings and an alleged plot to shut down nuclear plants in Arizona, California and Colorado.

In May, Bari and group member Darryl Cheney were injured when a pipe bomb exploded in her car.

″Dave Foreman wants Earth First 3/8 to remain small, pure and radical. I want it to be big, impure and radical,″ said Bari. She said she wants to go beyond ″eco-defense tactics″ like tree spiking and vandalizing heavy-duty logging equipment.

″Profound social changes don’t come about without a mass movement,″ she said.

Roselle accused Foreman of ″red-baiting,″ and said he was ″a retired old man out on the lecture circuit.″

″We don’t need Foreman in Earth First 3/8 if he’s going to be an unrepentant right-wing thug,″ Roselle said. ″We’re going to keep doing what we think is best, and that’s raise these issues and confront the industries that are trying to exploit our last wild lands.″

Foreman, a former lobbyist, helped found Earth First 3/8 a decade ago with four other conservationists. He said he may issue a public letter of resignation this week.

Despite the leadership split, Roselle said, the fast-changing Earth First 3/8 movement retains a ″formidable grassroots nationwide network that’s intent on saving wilderness and old-growth forests. That’s been our priority and will remain so.″

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