Enviro Movement Becoming Decentralized and Diversified

Environmentalism is going grassroots. While two-thirds of Americans identify themselves as environmentalists, membership in big, mainstream enviro organizations stayed flat throughout the 1990s. IRS data explains why, at least in part: The number of environmental groups with an annual income of $1 million or more fell by nearly half from 1995 to 2003; during the same period, 4,247 groups with budgets of less than $1 million were created. Many of these smaller groups involve people who have not been traditionally associated with environmentalism but who want to act on local concerns. In the West, ranchers and hunters fight to protect the natural resources they depend on. Other citizens band together around environmental justice, environmental health, and the intersection between religion and conservation. And some activists don’t associate themselves with any organizations, like Montanan Karl Rappold, who says, “I work with environmental groups, but I don’t belong to them. I can do more as an independent rancher.”