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The Passing of a Legend

A Howl of Farewell to a Legend of Conservation

David Forman. October 18, 1947 – September 19, 2022

One of the great leaders of the environmental/conservation movement has died.

Dave Foreman’s passion was the fire that launched Earth First! as the boldest, gutsiest, kick ass environmental group on the planet back in the early Eighties.

Inspired by legendary eco-activist writer Edward Abbey, Dave, Foreman, Howie Wolke and Mike Roselle founded EarthFirst! in 1980.

EarthFirst! was Ed Abbey’s fictional Monkey Wrench Gang come to life. In the early Eighties, I partnered Sea Shepherd with EarthFirst! and Dave announced that we were the navy to the EarthFirst! army. He was my friend and comrade for nearly forty years. At his urging I ran for the position of Sierra Club National Director and won, serving between 2003 and 2006. He was very helpful to me behind the scenes, during my debates and struggles with the Club to be more proactive and more controversial. He and I both agreed on the fact that radicalizing the Sierra Club was a lost cause, but it was a fun cause nonetheless.

I last saw Dave in 2019 when we did an interview together in 2019 in Colorado on putting the Earth and the Sea First. We went hiking in the mountains and I had my last conversation with him, sitting on a log watching some ants and marveling at their strength and resilience.

Dave spoke loudly and boldly and every time I heard him speak, I was impressed with his passion and his captivating delivery, a combination of facts, humor, inspiration, and knowledge. He spoke like an old-time tent revivalist delivering a sermon on ecology and the righteousness of direct action in defense of the planet.

When EarthFirst! was infiltrated with voices putting political correctness and human justice issues over the interests of the planet in complete contradiction of the EarthFirst! motto of “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth,” Dave did not waste time and energy fighting the anthropocentrist reformist infiltrators. Instead, he set up Wild Earth and the concept of rewilding.

He said, “If they want it, they can have it, I have more important things to do.”

I remember him saying to me of leaving Earth First! “When you live in an expensive mansion like Rockefeller and the vermin move in, you fight to kick them out, but when you live in an Apache Wickiup, when the vermin move in, you simply move on.”

When I wrote Earthforce!, an Earth Warrior’s Guide to Strategy I did it as a companion book for Dave’s 1884 book on tactics called a Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching.

Dave was a brilliant tactician, writer and charismatic public speaker.

He loved nature and risked his life many times in defense of what he loved. He was injured in protests. He was set up by the Feds, arrested and charged for something he had nothing to do with, yet he never betrayed the people who actually carried out the actions that he was charged with.

Dave often ended his speeches by calling for his audiences to howl like wolves and on every occasion they did so with auditoriums thundering with the howl of hundreds of students embracing Dave’s call to the wild.

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