Environmental Grantmakers Association
1992 Fall Retreat
The Wise Use Movement:
Threats and Opportunities

JUDY DONALD, Beldon Fund, Washington, D.C.: [tape begins in the middle of a sentence] ...as billed, "Threats and Opportunities," not dwelling too much on the threats, but really looking at what it means for the environmental movement. Deb Callahan and I are leading this, but we really want this to be – turn into a participatory session. We don't think of ourselves necessarily as the experts on this. We both are east coasters, and I'm inside the Beltway – Deb is nearly.

DEBRA CALLAHAN, [W. Alton Jones Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia]: Marginally outside the Beltway.

JUDY DONALD: Well, if you go to that second bypass, you'll be inside the Beltway. So, it's our sense that you folks know a lot about what's going on out there. You've experienced it yourself. Perhaps some of you are already engaged in some very interesting grantmaking, and I think those are the issues we need to start sharing. Our plan here is to begin with Deb, who is going to be talking about some of the information-gathering that's been going on about the Wise Use Movement, the Property Rights Movement from all across the country, just to give us a good grounding, that we're on the same wavelength and to show what's being done in that regard.

And then we'll move into a couple of case studies, a discussion of both the Wise Use Movement and next the property rights movement. That's the plan.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: And we'll end by 2:15.

JUDY DONALD: Yeah. And we plan to end by 2:15. Deb, it's all yours.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Okay, good. Actually we had thought that this was a small group and we wanted to go around the room, but I don't know. What do you think, Judy?

JUDY DONALD: Did we all read [indistinct]?

DEBRA CALLAHAN: I think we'll dispense with formalities. Just very quickly for point of reference, because it is real important when you're engaging in this dicussion, sort of, what is the level of knowledge and interaction with Wise Use folks, so just as a point of reference, all of you who know who Ron Arnold is, would you raise your hand for me please?

JUDY DONALD: Did anybody else beside Deb have a conversation with him when he was in town?

DEBRA CALLAHAN: The guy with the placards, the white beard and white hair.

JUDY DONALD: Deb was unique in that regard.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Okay, do all of you have a general sense of what Wise Use is? Okay, very briefly, I'll define Wise Use and a couple of terms that we'll be using throughout the session. For a couple of years now there has been a growing movement that you notice particularly in the western United States that really occurs – we're finding – all over the United States that is sort of generally referred to as the Wise Use movement. In fact "wise use" is a term that was coined by a figurehead named Ron Arnold who actually showed up here yesterday or the day before with these people who had yellow placards and they were walking around in a circle, and they were saying- - you know – your grants are taking away our jobs and that sort of thing. Before I go on any further, I'd like to ask, are any of you associated with wise use groups?





UNIDENTIFIED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was trying to form a local chapter of People for the West.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: [Laughs] Fine. Alright. It's nice we have an exchange program going on here. I tend to actually think of the wise use movements as being more generically the environmental backlash movement, because in fact around the country as you talk to activists on the ground who are dealing with what we think of as wise use – some of these organizations are formally associated with the wise use movement and Ron Arnold and really the vast majority often are not formally associated with wise use and Ron Arnold. So it's really in some ways sort of a mistake in nomenclature just to refer to this stuff as wise use, but we do it, and so that's how we're going to talk about it.

But this is really – what I think has really occurred here is the environmental community has sort of adopted this term wise use to mean this growing environmental backlash out there in the country that's really being fueled in large part by a lot of the economic stresses that have been brought to bear through environmental regulations or because people would like to think that they've been brought to bear because of environmental regulations and it's sort of the anti crowd is what we think of as wise use.

Our foundation put together a report about eight months ago that was circulated very widely, which was our initial impressions of wise use, and for those of you haven't read it, I beg your pardon that I'm going to sort of jump off and go a little bit past that report but I'd like to update you a little bit on what we have learned in about the last four months in continued research about the wise use movement that has been conducted that's here in this small book here.

What we're finding is that wise use is really a local movement driven by primarily local concerns and not national issues. We tend – you know, when you think of Ron Arnold and you think of Wise Use, you know, you think of command and control, top heavy, corporate funded, front groups that are organizing local people to get involved, get out there and attack environmentalists.

And that was the assumption I walked into this whole thing with. And in fact the more we dig into it, having put together a fifty – really constructed over a number of months a fifty state fairly comprehensive survey of what's going on with respect to wise use organizing activity – we have come to the conclusion that this is pretty much generally a grass roots movement, which is a problem, because it means there's no silver bullets, it means this is, is, you know, something that is going to have to be confronted in states and communities across the country in different ways depending on what the various local issues are that those wise use groups are dealing with and campaigning on.

Ron Arnold and these other figureheads like Grant Gerber and Chuck Cushman and some of these other leaders – Don Gerdts – are not creating the movement. They're trying to get out in front of something that is going on, in fact. They're attempting to assert some control over this grass roots movement that's going on. And they're having a certain amount of success.

They're not having success in coordinating the national wise use grass roots community and coalescing it into one movement that has a common agenda, and works together to fight legislation or to pass bills or to defeat certain members of Congress.

What those national figureheads have done extraordinarily well is they have imposed a language and a set of messages into the grass roots community that is extremely effective.

And so what we have here is not an orgoanization, we have a movement. The movement has a lexicon. The lexicon is very effective. And as I'm going to go into in a minute, there are three different sets of messages that the wise use movement employs to three different communities, that is very effective.

The movement is actually growing quickly at the grass roots as it finds its base. What I mean is, the movement is growing quickly around the country, in some states more quickly than others, but again, this is happening in every single state. We think of this as being a western phenomena – it's not true.

It's in New England. In New England it's about the Adirondack Mountains, it's about private property right movements, it's about the North Eastern forests. In the Southeast it's about coastal zone management and coastal development. It's about shrimpers in Louisiana not liking turtle exclusion devices. In the midwest it's about farmland. In coastal Louisiana and Texas it's about, you know, minerals development; it's about, you know, coal mining in those states.

All over the country it's like a gas, this, this, it's filling – it's, it's filling the available space, you know, whatever it is in terms of whatever issues exist there.

So the movement is growing quickly as these people at the local level who are angry about the environmental movement find this message and this movement to tap into. So you're going to find, I think, there's a natural threshold to which this movement will grow.

The real question here is, is this movement then going to expand beyond its natural base into mainstream America? All right? Are you going to find that suburbanites are beginning to associate with wise use, because when you poll – and I'm sure you heard this morning – and Celinda Lake who was supposed to be here today, who unfortunately was not able to make it to our panel either – what one of her messages was going to be is, is that what people fundamentally want, what people fundamentally believe about environmental protection is that, no it's not just jobs, and no it's not just environment, why can't we have both?

The high ground here is capturing that message, ok? And in fact the wise use movement is trying to capture that message. What they're saying out there is 'we are the real environmentalists. We are the stewards of the land. We're the farmers who have tilled the land and we know how to manage this land because we've done it here for generations. We're the miners and we're the ones who depend for our livelihood on this land. These guys live in glass towers in New York City. They're not environmentalists, they're elitists. They're part of the problem, and they're aligned with big government and they're out of touch. So we are the real environmentalists.'

And if that's the message that the wise use movement is able to capture, we are suddenly the equivalent of incumbents in this election year. We're really unpopular.

And so that's really what the battle ground is that I want to talk about.

Very quickly, the three messages that we have found through our study that the wise use movement employs are first what you might call a vanguard message. The vanguard message is for the true believers. And this is, this encompasses this really hot rhetoric that we first became familiar with Ron Arnold and some of these other leaders using, things like "Environmentalists are watermelons, they're green on the outside and red on the inside like communists." Things like "Environmentalists are pagan worshipers or cow worshipers." Or things like Don Gerdts in the northeast said, you know, "How do you define private property? Well, private property is anything you own, it's your house, it's your land, it's your wife, it's your dog, it's your kids." You know, there's some pretty outrageous stuff.

That is the vanguard message. That is for these people who are the heads of wise use groups who are really the ideologues. Because we're talking about real ideologues, we're talking about the John Birch Society that organized a rally in Vermont in June, where what they did – this private property rights organization – hung twenty public officials in effigy from the ceiling and labelled them, had Patrick Leahy's general election opponent there asking them for their support while Leahy was hanging in effigy, and the governor of the state was hanging in effigy there from the ceiling. And that was organized by the John Birch Society who is involved in this private property rights movement.

So there's this crazy nut case element in this thing, you go, well, main street people aren't going to buy into this, you don't do that in Vermont. And that kind of activity is saved for people who're really attracted to that extremist message.

The second, basically, man's right to exploit nature, no matter what the cost, is the vanguard message. We have a right to dominate the land and we have a right to do whatever we want.

The second kind of message is a conspiracy message. It creates an us-versus-them mentality. The elitist environmental groups are locking up the land, they're pushing people out of their jobs, they're in league with big government. And this message is used to motivate the local groups and the local leaders, but the vanguard message and the conspiracy message are what you call narrow-cast messages in the media business, it's what you use to talk to a narrow group of people to get them motivated and sparked up.

Then you come to the main stream message. And this is the one that really poses the threat to the progress of our community. And what that message says is man and nature can live together in productive harmony. We're the real environmentalists. And it's a persuasive message for the average person.

And for those of you saw Ron Arnold when he was here yesterday or the day before – I'm really losing track of time – that's what he was doing. And he had, you know, ten folks who are real people out there, with placards, who've lost their jobs, who live in communities where there's real economic stress because of transition, economic transition, based on resource extracting issues.

And they were saying, and they were lookin' us straight in the eye, and they were saying, hey, because of the work that you've been engaged in, we're hurting, we're losing our jobs and it's not right. And how do you say to somebody, no, I don't want you to have your job.

And when Joe Sixpack hears that message he goes, 'you're right, dammit, people oughta be able to work, and the environment ought to be able to be managed.'

And the minute the wise use people capture that high ground, we almost have not got a winning message left in, in our quiver. So therefore, what I'm going to be advocating, is that we have to develop our own mainstream message. We have to develop case studies where environmental regulation has in fact created jobs, where it's in fact improved people's lives, because we have a lot of these same kind of stories and we're not just getting them out there.

When we're confronted with loss of jobs, with jobs versus owls, we are – right, we're nodding our heads and say yeah we need to develop that, we need to develop that information about economics and the environment. But we also have to come back, and we also have to have our own stories that talks about how environmental protection is good for the human family.

Just side by side, let me talk to you about a couple of different ways the wise use people, advocates use message to promote their side and to hit us at the same time.

With respect to balance, the wise use advocates in this mainstream message say they're for balance, man and nature in harmony. They're for moderation and compromise about environmentalists. They're not for balance. Only nature is important to these people. Wise Use people say, people come first, jobs are primary, people are primary. Environmentalists: people don't come first, all life is equal. Man is the same value as an amoeba and they tie environmentalists with the animal rights community.

Wise users say they have a Can Do attitude. Technological fixes can solve problems. Environmentalists have a Can't Do attitude. The sky is falling and I can't get up. Wise users say we believe in freedom of choice and individual rights. Environmentalists believe the public comes first and the individual doesn't matter. So what it really comes down to is wise use versus no use.

Ron Arnold says, environmentalism is the last gasp of the old world view of man against nature. He wants to move us into the post environment era, man and nature can live together in productive harmony. So he's saying, we're outa' style, we're outa' sync, were passe', and he's really on the cutting edge.

Whereas in fact their agenda is regressive, but it's not the way that they're cutting it. It's not the way he's making it sound. So, to get to the constructive side of the building blocks that I think our community needs to put together to try and counter this wise use movement, there are four components, or five.

The first is message, and I hit over some of this. First of all, tell the conservation story. Describe the victories, talk about how the environmental movement has improved people's lives. Use human interest. Give – people perceive environmentalism as being theoretical – give it a human face, you know, the same thing politicians do. They always tell stories about, you know, Joe Mahoney and his community, you know, blah blah.

We have to redefine the term Federal lands to mean public lands. Federal is government, Federal is bad. Public is all of us, it's a concept that we need to push. These lands that are at stake belong to all of us.

Third, identify our opponents and how they're ripping off America. They are the public interest. A fine example of this is the 1872 mining act where land is getting sold off at $2.50 an acre to these people so they can go extract a lot of value out of it and not giving a lot back to the public purse.

Fourth, we need to side with the main stream. We're not the radicals. And that is probably the most critical message for us to take away from this: We don't want people to be jobless, and we don't believe it has to happen, but we need to work towards that goal. And address environmental economic concerns simultaneously.

We need to engage in coalition building with working people, farmers, sports people, main stream religious denominations – and that's critical because they are, are in their elitist messages saying that we're not Christian, we're pagans, we're cow worshipers, blah blah blah. And in fact we worked in coalition on toxic spills on the Clean Air Act and a lot of really important legislation with lobbyists side by side from mainstream religious organizations. We need to pull these groups in to help us with this fight on wise use because they are our best defense because in fact religious organizations do support a strong environmental agenda very often.

Third, attack wise use. They're aggressive in our direction and we need to be aggressive back. Now I don't mean constantly engaging in negative campaigning because we have a real knee-jerk reaction to that, and in fact probably rightly so. But we need to find the ideological divisions in the wise use movement and exploit them.

Why are ranchers and miners in a coalition together? They have very different interests. But in the wise use movement they work together. Wise use versus wise use. A lot of these groups hate each other. A lot of these leaders really are fighting for the microphone. The Farm Bureau says they won't have anything to do with Ron Arnold because they believe he's extreme. Grant Gerber thinks that investigators, has actually suggested to certain investigators they should investigate Ron Arnold and he'll give 'em everything he's got to help them with their investigation.

These people don't get along really well in terms of internals. And finally, wise use versus labor. Because if this is a jobs issue, again who's better addressed the jobs issue than the labor community, than the working class, than working people. And wise use, part of its agenda is the dismantlement sometimes – certain organizations – of OSHA laws, of worker protection laws.

When you get into the takings issue, part of what's at stake here is industry's regulation for worker safety, so there's some really important hooks that we can talk with these communities about and try and find some wedge issues at least neutralize them if not bring them over to our side.

We need to reveal the extreme positions of the wise use movement, talk about the Wise Use Agenda. We need to expose the links between wise use and other extremists: the Unification Church, the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche.

We need to talk about the foreign influences in the wise use movement. There's a lot of Japanese motorcycle industry money in the wise use movement. And I don't think mid-stream Americans want Honda and Yamasaki to be talking, to be dictating public lands policy. I mean I think that really drives the heart of the sort of nationalism that you're seeing showing up in polls that's popular right now in middle America.

We need to re-invigorate the grass roots, which is critical, and Judy is going to talk more about that and we need to facilitate the communication of information among all of us.

Later on I'll talk about some specific programs that are going on around the country that are pretty exciting, that are addressing wise use issues. And so I'll move off the general presentation and let Judy move on.

JUDY DONALD: You saw the hook, heh?

UNINDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can I ask a question? How much money are we talking about?

DEBRA CALLAHAN: From who, they have? That's been a really rough question. And there's been – It varies. If you look at People for the West, they raised over $2 million dollars, 90% of which has come from primarily, mining companies. You can buy a seat on the People for the West Board for – I believe it's a $25,000 contribution. And actually People for the West was started as a spin off from the Pegasus Gold Company. It started out as a spin off from a mining company and its primarily mining companies that sit on their board.

JUDY DONALD: And Canadian mining companies.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: And Canadian mining companies to boot. If you look at some of the original wise use organizing meetings, they were co-sponsored by Exxon and a couple of other oil companies and they were sponsored by, you know, various and sundry resource extractive companies. We don't have a dollar figure. It's very hard. Some of these guys aren't (c)(3)s. A lot of these organizations don't have reporting requirements and its very difficult to determine just how much money are that we're talking about.

JUDY DONALD: The bottom line is that its more than we have.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: It's more than we have. Some of these grass roots groups are dirt poor. And some, in fact at the last Wise Use Conference – while we were down in Rio, at the Earth Summit, they were in Reno having a conference. And there were more environmental spies at that thing I think than there practically were wise use people, I mean they were everywhere [laughter] and there was one person – and I talked to a bunch of these folks – and one of these folks said they were sitting down with a wise use person and one of the speakers up there talked with great mirth about how the environmentalists were portraying them as being front groups of corporations and how they were just rolling in money and apparently the room just burst out hysterically laughing. It was about as funny as us hearing them say, oh those guys are corporate backed and they're just rolling in dough, which they're saying about us right now.

Where do you really find the money and the resources are some of these other groups that are based in Washington, that are coalitions of special interest groups, like the Wetlands Coalition, where the American Farm Bureau is a member of it, the Cattlemen's Association, the NRA, some of these existing associations have banded together around particular issues and they're working with the Wise Use grass roots operations. So, who knows, but its more than we've got is the right answer.

The other pieces of the puzzle is that – I'm sure my boss will like this – it's a pretty hot political context there right now – contest – with the two incumbent Congresspeople – they ahppen to be men, congressmen – battling it out for the single congresisonal seat that will remain after redistricting. And those two fellows happen to be polar opposites on most issues. and finally, it's a state that has been very fertile ground for and because of that last point, it's been very fertile ground for wise use organizing. There are some paid field organizers there for at least a year working up the emotions.

So what has been the response by the existing organizations in the state, by national organizations to what's been going on. What are the – What's been going on, what have funders been doing?

One has been to beef up the amount of grass roots organizing that's already going on. It's kind of a base line concern, to just make sure that we're still, it's neighbor to neighbor, that we're talking to each other, adding additional field organizers on our side.

Getting more information, there have been discreet polls thzt have been funded to find out if the people's perceptions, or the assumptions of what people think about say the 1872 Mining act are really true, and that's been very useful information in a political sense as well as strategic sense for the environmental community there.

Folks have gone through some media training so that they can better respond to what's been going on and have a maybe more active aggressive strategy on how to deal with media.

There's been one national group, the Wilderness Society, that has set up a mini-grant program that has been able to direct $563 dollars to a particular group for a particular action at the right time and it's much faster response mechanism than I think any of us are able to do, including the Beldon Fund.

And so that's been very helpful. It's helped at least a half a dozen groups there in a very key and quick way. And Montana, because of its location as a progressive state generally, or at least in the past, is beginning to play an important regional networking role. Because as Deb has said, this is not an isolated phenomenon in just a couple of states, it's national, although the issues do vary across the region.

As so the groups in Helena and Bozeman and Missoula are connecting with groups in Wyoming and Idaho and Colorado, and cross fertilizing and exchanging information and that's also a very important function. So there's all kinds of opportunities for funders to be involved at any of those layers. And that's just a single state.

And I think we need to throw it open now to see what thoughts and actions perhaps this room can generate on other responses to the threats that Deb has laid out.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Or what kind of projects other people are funding.

JUDY DONALD: What other opportunities do you see out there that...

[end of Conference Recording Service tape. Short break in tape. Next Conference Recording Service tape spliced here, begins in mid-sentence.]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: ...a major opportunity is only a tactic that's used in the 27 rural counties in Souther Oregon and Northern California. You have a committee of Wise Use advocates goes to our county supervisors and asks for an emergency amendment to the County Master Plan to incorporate what Wise Use Agenda emergency into it. It's been difficult given the short time frames that they used and the pressure tactics they've used for the local environmental groups to respond with numbers of people like usual in one or two hearings the boards have held on this. And strategically I would think it would be very important to have a rapid response group to fund and assist the local people to repspond to these initiatives for emergency, these demands for emergency amendments to the County Master Plan, which basically say you can't do anything to interfere with private property rights.

JUDY DONALD: That's right. I think that there's a vast difference, staying with Montana, in what happened last year when there were hearings on the Greater Yellowstone Document, where basically the environmentalists got blown away by opposition, and just vehement opposition. This year there were hearings on Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone where environmentalists blew away the other side, because they wre really geared up, they put a lot of emphasis on it and I mean, their hearings had been called by the right wing just as a opportunistic – to turn out their own side. Well, they were wrong. We were fortunately better organized this time. So it is being prepared for those hot organizing opportunities. I'm sorry, you should go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Basically I have questions either for Montana or also more generally, I wonder whether those most active in the wise use movement, whether there's an age range that, you know, whether there's any demographic profile, whether it's men and women or primarily men, to what extent it overlaps with the right wing community that is active on other social issues, particularly with the fundamentalist community in this country, and also, last question, to what extent it has infiltrated – that's too strong a word – but to what extent it has been active within the Republican Party.

JUDY DONALD: [Laughs] There's a bit of confluence.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Yeah. It, it it... Alright. Boy. It's so, this is a, such an it's a such a difficult movement to track in a lot of ways. First of all, I guess, some of the demographic questions. I would say – this is flying by the seat of my pants, because we haven't commissioned a poll of wise use members about, to find out who they are. It would be great if you could get a list so you could do that, though.

But generally speaking, you see as many women as men. Again because who this is appealing to is, is families who are associated with the impacts of logging, with the impacts of mining – miners' families. And so it's not just the people who tend to be men who are directly associated with that activity. And in fact there are groups that are – Women in Timber is a wise use group. There are some women's organizations. And so I believe that you're not going to find – as far as age range – same thing is true. Some of these groups were started by people who are in their late teens, early twenties. And some of these groups you see are headed by older people. So I don't – again I think you're getting a cross section. If you're gonna find a demographic it's either gonna be, you know, region and what your economic base is. And also, you know, you don't see rich people aligned with the western wise use movement. In the east, when you're dealing with property rights, it's developers and real estate people. And there you find the money. So it's very different based on what is the issue that you're lumping in as wise use.

With respect to the Republican Party, I'm getting into real deep water here because I'm getting into some conjecture. And I do have an opinion that I'm not going to share, but what I can say is on the face – we do know that the head of the Vice President's Council on Competitiveness went to and addressed and received an award at this Reno conference, the most recent wise use conference, organizing conference.

And you have seen figureheads like Ollie North, G. Gordon Liddy, Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson using the same words, and you don't know – see if I want to talk, it's really easy to get into conspiracy theories here and you gotta get really careful. And you wanta pursue it, but it's very hard. But if you look at the right wing fundamental movement, it was really fueled by the communist threat, all right? And it's been fueled by some other issues of the day like abortion. Communism in Eastern Europe for all intents and purposes is really not a coalescing issue for that right wing movement any more. The abortion issue is not quite, it feels to a lot of people like it's somewhere down the road. And the terms that they use, they call us communists, OK? So I think that you can theoretically hypothesize that this movement makes a great next step for the fundamentalist right wing because it's about the same issues. It's about individualism versus the Federal government, it's Federalism, right to regulate. A lot of the same issues here. And you do find the John Birch Society and some of these same groups crossing over. So again, it's not something formal, but in you gut level you instinctively sort of say there's a lot of movement. And that's where you draw your membership from. Again that's your base-line I think.

JUDY DONALD: Anybody want to talk about other thoughts they have on strategies that we need to be pursuing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: When you call groups a wise use, I mean do they, do you have to join like an EGA of wise use people, or is it just you're applying the term wise use to just whatever groups are out there?

DEBRA CALLAHAN: I'm using the term wise use very loosely. There is a wise use organization, and that is Ron Arnold's organization, it's the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise. In fact it's not a hugely big membership organization. They're the folks who convene a lot of these coalition building national meetings. Those folks don't join, but they do work together or talk, or try to work together. I think of it as a confederation. In fact there's some indication that there's the multiple use movement, and the wise use movement. And these two factions hate one another.

And then there's the Farm Bureau and this that and the other thing. So we're using the term loosely, but it – again the tie that binds is the message, the language, and this anti-Federal regulation, and anti-environmental regulation place that they want to get to, objective.


PAT __________, AUDIENCE MEMBER: Back to strategy again. One observation adn then a question. The observation is that it's not just the greenies who are in the opposition at the local level. It's the elk hunter that goes back and finds clearcut all across where his favorite hunting spot was. So there's potential for local coalitions that stretch across what would be traditionally environmentalist tags. My question is this, Deb, if you're right about this being grass roots movement, I don't think hardly any foundation in this room can actually get to the grass roots with grantmaking activities, and that brought up the re-granting possibility. Whether or not those small grants, those $500 or $250, which in some cases can make an extraordinary difference in public education, whether there are vehicles in different states for re-granting, should one be interested in that sort of program.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: I have a list of things that people who don't do direct grass roots funding might be able to – just some suggestions, and for what to watch out for. But I'm going to preface this with a a statement that in fact what I would consider to be some of the, probably the majority of the best wise use organizing being done around the country a) isn't done as like in a vacuum anti-wise use organizing, it's done in the context of an issue campaign, it's done in the context of endangered species protection, it's done in the context of wetlands protection. It's done in the context of other things so probably most of you in this room have actually, or many of you in the room, have actually made grants that have supported environmentalists whose adversaries are largely wise users. So in fact you may already be engaged in some of this. And some of the best most effective organizing that we're seeing done is at the grass roots level, but there is an important role that I believe at every level of this community for activism on this wise use issue. So I'm just going to through out – I'm new here, and I'm not sure how proper it is to name names and things , so I'm going to do it anyway, because I'm just not sure if that's right or wrong. [laughter]

JUDY DONALD: Anybody want to tell her? [laughter]

Debra Callahan: First of all, there is in the making right now, a Western Meeting on Wise Use that is going to bring together groups from all over the Western states, together to discuss this and share information. Information sharing is critical so you don't recreate the world constantly.

Greater Yellowstone Coalition in southern Utah Wilderness Association are gonna be co-sponsoring that meeting and it's not fully funded yet.

Ruth Hennig with the John Merck Fund up in New England has put together – is in process of putting together a really wonderful program that is again a New England state coalition building effort of organizations that are working on wise use, and that's an effort that's being organized. It's gonna be very strategic and I think it's gonna be really powerful up there, up in New England. They've got some pretty heavy issues up there.

Arnold, Gottlieb and Cushman all just went up to Maine about four weeks ago for a meeting. And they've been up there twice this summer and we know something is percolating up there and we're not exactly sure what it is, but we're getting organized anyway.

JUDY DONALD: So the funding opportunities for regional networking is –

DEBRA CALLAHAN: big up in New England –

JUDY DONALD: We only have two regions covered right now –

DEBRA CALLAHAN: So contact Ruth Hennig at the Merck Fund if you're interested.

JUDY DONALD: In the Southwest, Southeast, Pacific Northwest.

UNIDENTIFED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Pacific Northwest. You have a group here, I'd be happy to give you any help you need.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Yeah, there's ga-jillions. Let me keep moving through.

JUDY DONALD: I'm just letting others think...


JUDY DONALD: That's okay.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Mostly constituency groups. There's Western Organization of Resource Councils: These guys do interesting kind of work. They have been organizing for a long time with ranachers and miners and resource based people, farmers, who are being fought for by the Wise Use people and what they're doing is getting their members to engage in peer to peer organizing, which is the best way to deal with this, at the grass roots level. If you have a wise use organizer in your community and they're trying to organize miners on this, who better to go talk to them than a bunch of miners to slow down that progress? And environmentalist or another miner? Well, they've been working with these people for years. So the Western Organization of Resource Councils is one multi-constituency group that in a number of states wise use programs.

JUDY DONALD: Now just do the sub-title: More Grass Roots Organizing.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: More Grass Roots Organizing. Sorry. [laughter] Another thing that is going on is that there is a national group collaborative effort that is going on right now between Sierra Club, Audubon, and National Wildlife Federation and Wilderness Society, for those of you who only fund national organizations. And that is going to be a grass roots effort, that is going to be funded through those national organizations. The New Voices Wilderness Society campaign – the Wilderness Society has a pot of money and they're giving out mini-grants to grass roots groups –

JUDY DONALD: Throughout the west.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Throughout the west. Trustees for Alaska, for those of you interested in forestry, has a very interesting battle that they're waging up there right now. there's a forest products company has private land. Alaska Forest Practices Act says you have to leave a hundred foot buffer strip between a cleacut and a stream and so this forest company up there says, "Fine, if you want us to leave up those trees, we want the state to compensate us to the value of those tree that we normally would have cut.


DEBRA CALLAHAN: collecting a lot of information. This project has been going on for years and now they're focusing very heavily on this sort of wise use activity. And you'll be seeing over the next year a number of stories in the national press that has been generated by information from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Those of us who were just up in BC, there's the Share movement up in Canada which is actually founded by Ron Arnold, our buddy down here in the lower 48, and they're very active and very powerful. There're opportunities up there.

Audubon and Environmental Defense Fund put together a coalition of takings. So that's another opportunity for those who don't fund at the local level. I don't know how many rules I just broke here, but –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I want to mention The Fund for Wild Nature which has a ten year track record as a foundation of funding small groups in the eleven Western states, in the rural counties of those western states and is an excellent, excellent way – Some of the things they've funded have been counter newspapers where people working in industries could write in anonymous letters to the editor when they found themselves censured in their own company, to express their views. If anyone's interested in the Fund for Wild Nature I'll be happy to give you more information about that after the end of the meeting.

JUDY DONALD: I just wanted to shift your initial laying out of the issues a little bit. I think it's helpful to look at this, the whole wise use movement, to separate out the parts of it that address real concerns and the parts of it that don't, because our strategies should be different in those two cases.

The way I look at it is there is – look at it three ways. 1) there is the right wing and its interplay with the wise use movement, and ideologically, the wise use movement provides a vehicle for the far right and that's a concern, a danger, and there are groups that monitor that and try to expose the connections between the right wing, the organized right wing and wise use.

Second, there's the backing, the financial backing which is largely from extraction industries. And there's a need of course to expose that, to make it clear whose movement this is, who's paying for it, in whose interest is it.

But third, there are, as Deb has made clear, ordinary people, grass roots organizations who obviously feel their needs are being addressed by this movement. And I think when we think – so, leaving the first two aside, for a second – when we address that third issue, which is I think where we should be thinking, putting most of our thinking, and most of our money. We have to have a strategy that also is addressing those concerns. And that cannot come simply from environmentalists. And that's, I think that's – it can come just from us. That's the – I think that's the dilemma here. People it's not simply that they don't get it, it's that they do get it. They're losing their jobs. And in one way or another, environmentalists have to, have to address that issue. And I think if we hold, if we for instance pay for meetings where environmentalists get together to forge a strategy to counter wise use we may be going down the wrong track here. We have to be encouraging meetings where environmentalists and non-environmentalists, you know, and people who are losing their jobs talk about their real, both of their concerns and together come up with a local solution, and of course in the process the connections to the right wing have to be exposed, the connections to the extraction industry have to be exposed, and that probably has to be done on a local basis and you know, it's not that they're – and it's different in the west than it is on a legal takings issue. I mean all these things are different. Thinking about the west just for a minute, I think we really should be thinking about all the ways in which we can bring those two communities together. Barbara?

BARBARA [DUDLEY? Executive Director, North Shore Unitarian Universalist, Veatch Program, Plandome, NY]: I just want to add to that and I want to use a different kind of case study, because I think it's important not to just think about what we might fund to counteract this movement, but we need to think about what we shouldn't be funding. And I will give you – because we have done a lot of funding of the family farm movement and let me tell you they are not fond of environmentalists. And deservedly so. There is a major environmental funder who is very big into sustainable agriculture whose quotation is now being spread throughout the family farm movement and it is: "I don't give a damn if we're left with only one farmer as long as he farms without chemicals."

And that, I can't tell you, from the work we've done with the family farm movement, how many times I have been embarrassed to be associated with environmentalists, and with environmental grantmakers and there are projects like - - I don't know how many of you funded the Beyond Beef campaign, but that project has done more damage to any potential alliance between family farmers or ranchers or cattlemen, and the environmental movement. And that follows from a pretty good alliance being built up around bovine growth hormone and other additives and things like that.

If we don't screen our own funding and think about what, what is this group saying about people's livelihoods and incomes and what are they saying about the jobs. What are these wetlands groups saying, you know? I mean, and how are they projecting themselves? If we see this as a battle, we're gonna loose. And I think that's just another aspect of what Corinne was saying, but it's very important that we think about this question in all of our funding. We don't put it over here in this box called 'counter the wise use movement' and we fund something over there to do that. We have to live that notion. And it means we have to face the economy as a question. And what does sustainable development or a sustainable economy really mean, and we have to look at what every piece of the conservation funding might be doing as well.

This is a class issue. There is no question about it. It is true that the environmental movement is, has been, traditionally as someone said over the last three days sitting up at the podium, this has been in the past an upper class conservation, white movement. We have to face that fact. It's true. They're not wrong that we are rich and, you know, they are up against us. We are the enemy as long as we behave in that fashion. And I think that is the portrayal of the national environmental movement but when you get down to the state level you don't have it.

JUDY DONALD: I think that is the portrayal of the national environmental movement, but when you get down to the state level it isn't, you don't have that disconnect.

BARBARA?: That's right. You don't need to do it. But we need to watch that we're not undoing the good that we're doing on the one hand with the funding on that we're doing on the other.

JUDY DONALD: Yeah. Go ahead.

ANOTHER FEMALE VOICE, POSSIBLY HISPANIC: Do you think that adds to our opportunities to fund grass roots movement and social justice, to see that the whole environmental movement has evolved and has become a people-oriented movement. I think that's very fundamental, too.

JUDY DONALD: Thank you, Arinbe. Frank, you were going to say something.

FRANK _________: As Phil _________ said in better words that I could use, but I tend to be a middle of the roader and more mediation oriented, and the guidelines of our foundation. And I guess I'm hearing the us-and-them theme played out among people who I believe need to step back and be objective. So I really appreciate your comments. Because the Wise Use People are not a hudnred percent wrong. And the environmentalists are not a hundred percent right. Somewhere in there we have to find a common ground. And I was going to ask the question, given the evolution of just the terms "wise use" and defining how they describe environmentalists, what are the environmentalists and the funders of those organizations doing in effication of those charges. And I think that that again is, stepping back and saying, "What are we funding? Are we funding Anti? Or are we funding Pro-people? Who's down there hurting? What's the need. And what's the ultimate long-term need of this community. And how are we dealing with them? And is all this through the environment?" That I think we tend to get caught up in the fight and lose the battle. And yet we possess the most powerful tool of all, and that's in addition to money, that is objectivity. Of helping in the guidance of how these organizations are operating.

JUDY DONALD: Perhaps you're always entirely objective, but...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: You know, there's a funding partner here that I think isn't tapped fully, and that's the community foundations in this country. There are 350 of thse community foundations. They tend to be pretty broad based. They're viewed in many of their communities as being impartial. And I think there's a great potential there to get to the grass roots using the community foundation system throughout the country.

JUDY DONALD: Should we shift now to the private property side of things, the takings side of things? Are people ready for another twist of the dial? I don't want to cut anybody off, I really wanted to go forward on –

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I do want to say one thing. I think that some ways in the other meeting that's taking place this afternoon, in spirituality: aspects of the environmental movement, is something and how that gets represented through churches or other kinds of ethnic and cultural expression is a very positive aspect of what can be there to fill some part of peoples' needs. A postive aspect that can stand in cintrast to "what are we going to do against them?"

JUDY DONALD: Bring in the value issues. Why don't you do a quickie on takings.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: I can't. Okay, takings, conceptually you probably all know what this is about. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution says that the federal government shall not take private property without just compensation. And originally the interpretations that the Supreme Court handed down said that meant the taking of physical property. In the last couple fo decades the courts have determined that that also means a legislative taking of the value of property. Have begun to cut into that area. Therefore, as regulations for example restrict someone's ability to build a home on a piece of coastal property that is now being interpreted to be in some places a taking under the fifth amendment of the Constitution.

And there is an agressive movement both at the national and the local level to continue to push that takings clause farther and farther and farther. So if you played it out to its very ultimate extent, it would really restrict local, state and federal governments' abilities to impose regulations restricting individuals abilities to, well, they would not be able to regulate individual activities, taken to the farthest extreme. There's a lot of activity around the country.

JUDY DONALD: Can I just ask how many lawyers are here in the room?



JUDY DONALD: Just checking.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: Alright. So far 28 states have considered takings legislation in their state legislatures. Just this year three states passed conservative takings bills: Delaware, Arizona, and Washington State.

250 counties around the country, that we have been able to find, have considered takings bills at the county level and over 50 counties thus far have passed.

That's last year. We're coming up on a new legislative year in most states and we know, I mean it's as easy as counting the fingers on your hands, there's going to be a lot of activity with introducing these takings bills in state legislatures and local government level.

In Arizona, the environmental community attempted to place a referendum on the ballot to repeal that takings law which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. And I keep hearing it's back and forth, back and forth. A week ago I talked to the woman who was heading up that effort, and she said, "Deb, you know, we don't think we're going to get enough signatures. I looks like we might get just enough and a lot of them are going to get bounced off. And then I heard yesterday from someone that had sopken to her, and they got 15,000 more signatures than they needed to to get the referendum placed on the ballot. That would be historic in Arizona. Only twice before has Arizona had referendums placed on the ballot and both of them had to do with Martin Luther King holidays. So this is really something. you know, it's exciting to have environmentalists really pulling together down there. And they're actually looking to do some focus group work and polling that could be very crucial for thse other states where they're battling takings bills both at the state and local levels. So that's one thing that I want to put in front of you. There's also a national effort right now with national groups talking about takings.

They other thing I'll just raise and then stop. There's something that I hadn't heard about previously til we had this report. It's called R.S. 2477. It's something I think we're going to be hearing about a lot pretty soon. It's a pre-Civil War statute that says, quote, the right of way for the construction of highways over public land not reserved for public uses is hereby granted. And this law was repealed in 1976. What it means is that if you can prove that there was a road or a hiking path or a donkey trail that went through what is now public land pre-, if that was there previous to 1976, then it's a right of way. And if you can go out in a proposed wilderness area, show that there was a donkey path or there was a cart road or something, then you can argue that this is not really going to be able to be considred wilderness area. It really going to impact some wilderness fights. And this is something which a lot of – and other kinds of protective actions. So this is something that a lot of these local Western counties and state governments takings advocates are starting to spend a lot of time is trying to track down these old roads and pathways so they can use that in these protection battles.

Did you want Chuck to talk to them about the national trust?

JUDY DONALD: What? Was that all clear to everybody? No, we'll see if it comes up. And why don't we tackle this one, tackle takings. And what ought to be done about it. Any thoughts out there? Otherwise, I'm going to turn to Chuck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was going to ask to what extent has [indicitinct] the takings as regards states rights laws in the environmental area that can be used for environmetnally positive things. I mean the other flip side of this.

DEBRA CALLAHAN: There's a conversation that we should be pushing something called 'givings' where in fact environmental regulations protect the public interest and therefore we should be using those arguments in Supreme Court cases and other cases and it hasn't been developed a lot yet in the briefs that have been filed to the best of my knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Like in North Carolina they had a more stringent law passed about the water quality which then was triggered under federal regulation. And that allowed the group to use the [property of?] building a hazardous waste incinerator and so I mean, the same principle, I mean it's sort of the state's rights thing being used to go forward with things we think are environmentally beneficial.

JUDY DONALD: Chuck, why don't you talk about the national trust?

CHUCK _______, National Trust for Historic Preservation: There are essentially two kinds of problems we're facing with takings, and one is far worse than the other. The first is reversible, and that is the legislative finding of a taking. That is, a legislative body, whether it be a county board or the U.S. Congress, saying that from now on something is a taking when in the past it was not. Some form of regulation on the use of land is now a taking. That's a big problem because, as Deb was saying, these kinds of laws, statutes, ordinances are being promoted throughout the country. But another Congress or county board or state legislature could reverse it. The other kind of taking matter that's going on is the further definition of taking through the courts. And all of you have heard about the Lucas case in South Carolina, which Deb was implying at one point and my understanding of the Lucas case is that we neither won nor lost on it, it was not a definitive case in the end. Although it may have been a narrowing of things that was not beneficial, but if, with the Supreme Court that we now have, that the definition of a taking is broadened through time in the case law, there could then be no reversal. It could be far worse than say, the choice issue where there actually is a Congresional fix if the Supreme Court does the wrong thing on Wade v. Roe. We could just be out forever. Or at least for a very long period of time. Were we to have a Supreme Court many years to come that would some way find its way back to redefine it.

Then I just wanted to point out that these are two kinds of things with much the same impact, potentially. But the courts is a far more serious matter in the sense of its potential permanence, where our ability to effectuate very much of what we've tried to do in the enviromental arena could be just out the window forever. Or practically forever.

JUDY DONALD: Want to talk about some of the happening at the national level in the environmental community?

CHUCK: Well, I don't quite know what all you want me to say about the national trust, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation has set up an advisory committee that is attempting to bring at least some constituencies together. I'm a member of it. It has invited representatives of the environmental community, parts of the planning community, land trust community. And the idea is to try to form or to identify some common ground, at least among these communities, and work together on this whole variety of wise use questions.

They are most interested in these taking issues as they apply to potentially eliminating their ability to promote regulation for the protection of historic structures or properties.

On the other hand they are certainly, I think, concerned and share the public land kinds of issues that are coming up with the wise use movement.

In any case, there have been several meetings of this group, and it has three subcommittees: Presently, one – and the one that's probably doing the most work and most productively – is a subcommittee of basically a group of lawyers who have been working on first of all trying to track all the court cases nationwide about the takings issue. And they had a number of meetings before the Lucas decision came down about message, and after that interpreting what actually had happened and so forth. And they I think have now received some funding for their ongoing work, and I think they're looking for some more. And I think the National Trust would be a kind of a Secretariat of sorts for a group that includes groups like National Audubon, EDF, National Wildlife Federation and others.

A second subcommittee that is active has been trying to do an inventory of all the activities going on about these legislative taking kinds of bills in state legislatures and the county-local government level. And anyway, they are talking about having, trying to have some kind of ongoing monitoring capacity and some kind of capacity to get the word out to all those who care about this and want to be involved in trying to counteract it. And to actually trying to have some kind of action network of alerting people to where problems are and what they can do about it.

A third committee, which I happen to chair, was set up to try to define the commonality of the communities that are represented on this advisory committee, and to come up with a positive statement that could be used in return of what we stand for vs. what the wise users stand for. And a number of people have talked to me and have worked very hard and we have a draft of a statement of principles about that. And our mission has been broadened to try to do some of these things that Deb was talking about at the beginning of her first presentation about the defining message and so on. We have not really gotten to that part. And I'd be happy to talk to anybody individually afterward. And we're looking forward to a whole lot of help because we're going to need it.

But the original concept was to see whether we could form a broad alliance to counteract the problem of the wise use movement and their activities. And we have been having some real trouble within our subcommittee and the broader advisory committee in that there are some of us who define the problem more or less the way Deb did at the beginning as for looking at it as a broad environmental backlash movement in general in its broadest sense, which would go to things like protection of health and safety, codes in the workplace and etc, etc. Many on the committee do not really want to go beyond the area of real estate whether it be private or public. And this has gotten to be kind of a big debate and I guess during the many discussions we've had during this conference, I guess I feel all the more reaffirmed in the position I've been taking there that we ought to be doing this broader and that we ought to be doing even a much broader potential coalition that involves certainly the equity questions and broader set of groups with other parts of society and really trying to talk about our vision of sustainability or whatever.

JUDY DONALD: Anybody else?

BARBARA: Well, this is sort of off the track a bit, but it seems to me that this takings issue is kind of the ideological soft underbelly of the wise use movement in a way if we use it properly in that it does – it doesn't speak to the interests and the needs of the workers who are losing their jobs in whatever fashion. It speaks to the interest and needs and wealth of the owners and I think if we use it properly, as opposed to just going and litigating it quietly in a corner somewhere, if we use it properly and publicize it properly and talk about it in those terms, that you start to – I think the fundamental problem for the wise use folks is that there is no real convergence of interest between, if I might be blunt, the ruling class and the working class. [Barbara chuckles] Just in case you were wondering where I came from. [laughter] I mean in the end, the people who own the timber and own the mines are not in the same camp as the people who are working for them and they haven't done them very many favors over the last four centuries. So this temporary convergence against the environmentalists –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Remember one thing: they're doing a better job.

BARBARA: They are doing a better job. That's right. And at lower and lower pay any chance they could get and they've introduced as many technologies as they could to displace as many of them as they possibly could. I mean they don't do it as a favor. So, if in fact we could separate those two parts of the wise use movement, i.e., the owners, who are fighting, you know, the timber companies and the mining companies are fighting the environmentalists from the people who work for them by saying "Who's going to get this many millions of dollars that the county or state or whoever is going to said, said they're going to have to pay back from taxpayer money, i.e., all of us, who's going to get that money. It's not going to be the displaced workers. You can bet on that. No one's talking about dividing that money up and putting it in the pocket of the coal miners who aren't going to be able to mine or the loggers who aren't going to be able to log. So, it really is to me a very divisive issue for the wise use movement and that's how we need to see it. I mean we need to play it that way if – I mean, we're gonna lose it in the courts, we might as well admit that to ourselves. I mean the Supreme Court's not on our side on this one.

CHUCK (NTHP): I think it's important to comment. It would be great if we could pick the battles that get played out to determine whatever the cases are. If it could be an issue like you were just describing, that would be wonderful. But it may be over some ridiculous zoning statute that isn't even environmental. It may even be anti- environmental, but we would be defending because we have to defend regulation. And that's something I think our people should be really looking at. Is there a way to play the game here so that the facts of the issue that's before a court, or the examples or the case study that are used in the argument of the legislative part are in fact things that play our way to really broaden the support base for alnd or property regulation.

JUDY DONALD: Well, we've hit 3:15. I think that means we're supposed to hit the kayaks next. So, I feel we somewhat scratched the surface, maybe dug a little deeper on some of the issues. But there's lots there and I certainly hope that more of you will be exploring these issues in your grantmaking and continue networking among ourselves to come up with better ideas. Thank you all for coming.


Thanks to Ron Arnold for help preparing the written transcript.

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Page last updated: 6/13/05