David Foreman

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David Foreman
Born (1947-10-18) October 18, 1947 (age 74)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Other namesDave Foreman
EducationSan Antonio Junior College, University of New Mexico
Known forActivism, writing
MovementRadical environmentalism, nativism

David Foreman (born 1947) is an American environmentalist and author, he is a co-founder of Earth First! and a prominent member of the radical environmentalism movement.[1]


David Foreman, was born in October 18, 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[2][3] His father was a United States Air Force sergeant.[4] Foreman attended San Antonio Junior College and University of New Mexico, where he majored in history.[4] In his early life he was active in conservative politics, campaigning for Barry Goldwater and forming the Young Americans for Freedom conservative youth chapter on his junior college campus.[4] In 1968, Foreman joined the Marine Corps' Marine Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia and received an undesirable discharge after 61 days.[4]

After his experience with the Marine Corps, he worked as a teacher at a Zuni Indian reservation in New Mexico and would shoe horses.[4]

Activism and environmentalist work[edit]

The Wilderness Society[edit]

Between 1973 and 1980, he worked for The Wilderness Society as Southwest Regional Representative in New Mexico[4] and the Director of Wilderness Affairs in Washington, DC.[5]

By the late 1970s, Foreman had become increasingly disillusioned by what he viewed as the “professionalization” of the environmental movement.[citation needed] After the United States Forest Service's Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II resulted in the opening of thirty-six million acres (146,000 km²) of land for logging in 1979, Foreman left Washington and abandoned his job as an environmental lobbyist.[citation needed]

Earth First![edit]

In April 1980, Foreman and friends Howie Wolke, Ron Kezar, Bart Koehler and Mike Roselle took a week-long hiking trip in the Pinacate Desert. It was during this trip that Foreman is believed to have coined the phrase "Earth First!"[citation needed] The movement that subsequently bore that name was inspired, in some part, by the writings of Edward Abbey, author of the novel The Monkeywrench Gang.[6][3][7] In contrast with the cautious lobbying efforts of the established environmental organizations, "monkeywrenching"—industrial sabotage traditionally associated with labor struggles—would become the chief tactic of the Earth First! movement in the 1980s.[3] The Earth First! Journal, which Foreman edited from 1982 to 1988, featured lively debates on the ethics and effectiveness of this controversial tactic.

In 1990, Foreman was one of five people arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation following operation THERMCON, in which FBI agents infiltrated an Arizona Earth First! group, encouraging them to sabotage a powerline feeding a water pumping station. While Foreman had no direct role in the attempted sabotage, he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy. He was permitted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for handing two copies of Ecodefense to an FBI informant, and received a suspended sentence.[3]

After less than a decade, Foreman left Earth First!, disillusioned by the changing character of the organization.[citation needed] According to Foreman, the incorporation of Marxists and anarchists into Earth First! changed the movement, and not for the better. Many Earth First! members attribute Foreman's departure from the organization as having to do with his alleged sexism and racism. Foreman went on to form the Rewilding Institute.[citation needed]

In 1990, Foreman left Earth First! to pursue other work.[8]


From 1976 to 1980, he was a board member for the New Mexico chapter of The Nature Conservancy.[citation needed]

Foreman co-founded the Wildlands Network in 1991, which aims to establish a network of protected wilderness areas across North America.[9]

From 1995 to 1997, he served on the Sierra Club’s board of directors, but departed after the organization rejected his proposed policy on restrictive immigration.[10][6]

In 1997, Foreman co-founded the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. In 2003, David Foreman and the board of directors of the Wildlands Project founded a new think tank, the Rewilding Institute, dedicated to "the development and promotion of ideas and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation in North America and to combat the extinction crisis."


In 1985, Foreman published the first edition of the book Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, sharing the editing credits with one “Bill Haywood”.[citation needed] Ecodefense collected articles published in Earth First! Journal’s “Dear Nedd Ludd” column, which provided advice to would-be monkeywrenchers on sabotage techniques.[citation needed]

Foreman is the author of The Lobo Outback Funeral Home, a novel, Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, a collection of essays, and Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century.[citation needed] He also co-authored The Big Outside with Howie Wolke. Most recently, he authored Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife, which argues that human overpopulation is the primary cause of biodiversity loss and other environmental problems.[citation needed]


In an 1986 interview, Foreman said the United States should not be providing aid for the Ethiopia famine and hunger crisis, but rather, “let nature seek its own balance.[11]

Foreman had an increasing pro-border, anti-immigrant, Nativism voice, and initially it was coming from some of his writing with EarthFirst![10] Foreman and Edward Abbey both argued against immigration because it put “more pressure on the resources”.[11] As time went on, the idea of "population control" became part of the issue and was a point of debate within the environmental movement, eventually led Foreman to be forced out of EarthFirst![10][12][13]

He has been compared to a visionary by some and as a threat to the movement by others.[9][4] Some of the science used for decision making within the Wildlands Network has been questioned, and termed, "lofty scientific ideals" since it could take 100 years to realize an outcome.[9]


  • Foreman, Dave (1991). Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. Crown. ISBN 0-517-88058-X.
  • Foreman, Dave (2004). Rewilding North America: A Vision For Conservation In The 21St Century. Island Press. ISBN 9781559630610.
  • Foreman, Dave (2004). The Lobo Outback Funeral Home: A Novel. Doug Peacock (Foreword). Bower House. ISBN 978-1555663391.
  • Foreman, Dave (2011). Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife. Ravens Eye Press. ISBN 978-0981658476.
  • Foreman, Dave (2014). The Great Conservation Divide: Conservation vs. Resourcism on America's Public Lands. Ravens Eye Press. ISBN 9780990782612.

Contributions by Foreman[edit]

  • Cafaro, Philip; Crist, Eileen, eds. (2012). "The Great Backtrack". Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. Albert Bartlett (Contributor), Amy Gulick (Contributor), Anne Ehrlich (Contributor), Charmayne Palomba (Contributor), Dave Foreman (Contributor), Donald Weeden (Contributor), Earth Policy Institute (Contributor), George Wuerthner (Contributor), Jeffrey McKee (Contributor), Joseph Bish (Contributor), Leon Kolankiewicz (Contributor), Lester Brown (Contributor), Martha Campbell (Contributor), Paul Ehrlich (Contributor), Paul Watson (Contributor), Richard Lamm (Contributor), Robert Engelman (Contributor), Roderick Nash (Contributor), Ronnie Hawkins (Contributor), Stephanie Mills (Contributor), Thomas S. Butler (Contributor), Tim Palmer (Contributor), William R. Catton Jr. (Contributor), William N. Ryerson (Contributor), Winthrop R. Staples III (Contributor). University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820343853.


  1. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (2011-06-21). "The Rise and Fall of the Eco-Radical Underground". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  2. ^ "Foreman, Dave, 1946-". LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies, Library of Congress. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  3. ^ a b c d Szewczyk, Collin. "Eco-warrior Dave Foreman looks back at 45 years of putting Earth first". Aspen Daily News. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Protector or Provocateur?". Sports Illustrated Vault. Sports Illustrated. 1991-05-27. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  5. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2002). Encyclopedia of Modern American Extremists and Extremist Groups. Greenwood Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-313-31502-2.
  6. ^ a b "Dave Foreman". Mountainfilm. 2011-04-09. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  7. ^ "Earth Angel: CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-WARRIOR, By Dave Foreman". Los Angeles Times. 1991-03-10. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  8. ^ Hamilton, Geoff; Jones, Brian (2014-01-10). Encyclopedia of the Environment in American Literature. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-4766-0053-6.
  9. ^ a b c Hanscom, Greg (1999-04-26). "Visionaries or dreamers?". High County News. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  10. ^ a b c Cagle, Susie (2019-08-16). "'Bees, not refugees': the environmentalist roots of anti-immigrant bigotry". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-13. The deep ecologist Dave Foreman was a co-founder of the radical wilderness collective Earth First! before the group forced him and his increasingly anti-immigration ideology out. By the late 90s, the anti-immigration issue reached a fever pitch within the US environmental movement. The Sierra Club had grown exponentially in the preceding decades, and “population control” had been part of its core platform. A nearly decade-long power struggle ensued for control over America’s pre-eminent conservation group, as new members attempted to move away from the overpopulation argument, while longtime Sierrans and those in Tanton’s circle pushed the group to maintain immigration control as a core tenet.
  11. ^ a b Feeley, Lynne (30 August 2019). "Earth First? On "The Ecocentrists" and Pregnancy in the Anthropocene". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2020-11-13. But it was the outwardly xenophobic, racist, and homophobic comments by some members of Earth First! that led the “social ecologist” Murray Bookchin to label the group’s members as “social reactionaries.” In 1986, Earth First! founder Dave Foreman said in an interview that the United States should not give aid to the starving people of Ethiopia but, rather, “let nature seek its own balance,” and he argued against immigration because it put “more pressure on the resources” of the United States. (Edward Abbey agreed with this position on immigration.) And in a 1987 issue of Earth First! Journal, Christopher Manes, writing under the pseudonym Miss Ann Thropy, wrote that the AIDS epidemic might solve the problem of overpopulation.
  12. ^ Postrel, Virginia (1998-05-05). "Surprise! The Green Left Is Nativist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  13. ^ Cagle, Susie. "Anti-immigration white supremacy has deep roots in the environmental movement". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2020-11-13.

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