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Articles by Mitch Friedman

Mitch Friedman is a biologist and founder (in 1989) of Conservation Northwest, which he directs from Bellingham, Wash. He was one of the first tree-sitters and a founding board member of The Wildlands Project and American Lands. He thanks Dave Werntz, Jasmine Minbashian, Tim Coleman, David Heflick, Andy Kerr, Todd Schulke, Mike Petersen, James Johnston, and Dominick DellaSalla for comments on drafts of this essay.

Featured Article

In 1982, Earth First!er Dave Foreman used form letters to blitz the U.S. Forest Service with administrative appeals, blocking over 100 timber sales that threatened roadless areas in several Western states.

There’s a new ray of hope among forest activists.

Photo: iStockphoto.

This act of paper monkeywrenching sums up the relationship conservationists had with the Forest Service for three decades. We attempted nearly every act of peaceful hostility — appeals, lawsuits, tree-sits — to obstruct what was then the largest single agency in the federal government and the largest single employer in many rural communities. The Forest Service was destroying our old-growth and wild areas; it had to be stopped.

That was then. This is now.

Today the Forest Service is broken and demoralized, with a budget built more around firefighting than logging. The annual logging cut is a fraction of what it was in its heyday. Biodiversity is threatened less by the prospect of new roads and clear-cuts in wild country than by the ailing condition of old roads and tree plantations.

The conservation movement... Read more