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Dave Foreman Earth First! Collection

Identifier: MSS -1102-BC

Scope and Contents

Dave Foreman Earth First! Collection documents activities between 1983 and 2008. A principle goal of Earth First! is the preservation of forested lands and the expansion of wilderness areas. The collection is divided into six series. The first series contains information about the organization itself, including administrative proceedings, Earth First! journal, meetings, and debates. The following three series detail correspondence, policies, and newspaper articles regarding the organization and different environmental issues. The fifth series contains newsletters from several environmental organizations such as the Colorado Wild Newsletter, the Blackcountry journal and the Forest Watch Newsbrief. Finally, last series includes six sub-series grouped around larger themes (i.e. Forests, Grazing, Logging, Mining, Public Lands, and Timber Sales.), and occasionally overlap in content.


  • 1983-2008


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Earth First! was founded in 1980 by a group of five friends, all of whom had extensive experience with established environmental organizations. Perhaps the closest charismatic figure that the movement had, Dave Foreman spent fifteen years of his life as a professional conservationist before co-founding Earth First! During the 1970’s he worked for The Wilderness Society as their Southwest Regional Representative and later as their chief lobbyist in Washington, DC. Howie Wolke and Bart Koehler, two other co-founders, had similar experiences before the formation of Earth First! They were Wyoming representatives for Friends of the Earth and The Wilderness Society. The fourth co-founder, Ron Kezar, was employed with the National Park Service. Five was Mike Roselle, former Yippie activist, and oil field worker, then direct-action coordinator for Greenpeace USA. As a protest organization, Earth First! was very decentralized, with no stated leadership or organizational structure. Membership lists were not kept, and the only indicator of the organization’s size came from the about 15,000 subscriptions to the Earth First! Journal, edited by Dave Foreman. In the first issue of Earth First! Journal we learn that Earth First! was unlike other environmental organizations in that it specialized only in one area: public lands and their use. The primary concern of Earth First! was wilderness and the spectrum of public land uses which range from industrial agriculture to mining. Operating under the slogan “No compromise in defense of Mother Earth!”, Earth First! wanted to achieve its goals of expanding wilderness areas and biodiversity using a number of different protest tactics. Between 1987 and 1990, Earth First! campaigns proliferated and amplified, and law enforcement authorities infiltrated the movement intensifying internal divisions. In May 1989, Dave Foreman and four other Earth First! activists were arrested by the FBI and tried for conspiring to damage power lines near the Diablo Canyon and Palos Verde nuclear-generating stations. Eventually, the movement suffered from internal divisions and external repression and did not survive intact for long after the arrest of Foreman.


13 boxes (13 cu. ft.)

Language of Materials



This collection contains David Foreman's personal collection of Earth First! records. Earth First! was founded in 1980 in the southwestern United States and the expanded globally. The collection details research, politics, and advocacy pertaining to various environmental topics.
Finding Aid to Dave Foreman Earth First! Collection, 1983-2008
Valerio Di Fonzo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131