UNDUE INFLUENCE

Chapter One:
Silent
Scandal


Undue Influence by Ron Arnold

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This chapter from Undue Influence was edited for the web by the author and is copyright © 1999 and 2000 by Ron Arnold. 

SILENT SCANDAL

A bewildering array of federal actions is crippling rural goods-producing economies in the name of protecting nature. An urban-rural prosperity gap widens because of these actions, which damage county tax bases and vital services such as roads, schools, and law enforcement. The flow of goods being destroyed includes water production, farming, ranching, mining, timber, oil and gas, roads, and manufactured goods—in short, everything physical or material that industrial civilization needs to thrive. An "iron triangle" of coordinated interests provokes the federal actions: environmental groups, wealthy foundations, and zealous bureaucrats. Their campaign of rural cleansing is turning vital resource producers into despised and disposable inferiors.

THE DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE BUZZING around in five digits. Employment at high levels. Gross Domestic Product growing merrily in a troubled world. The Federal Reserve happy enough to keep interest rates low.

With the new millennium looking that good, how could anyone believe that the environmental movement is dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece?

Why don’t we hear about it? Or see it on television?

The answer is simple.

It’s invisible.

First, the locus of the problem is literally out of sight, beyond the gridlock, past the city limits, after the last suburb. Out in the country. In the forests and grasslands and rivers and mountains. In rural America.

Second, the focus of the problem falls on cultural blind spots. It’s the modern rendition of an age-old conflict, the urban sophisticate versus the country bumpkin. So ordinary that nobody sees it.

We categorize each other with stereotypes. City slickers. Boorish hillbillies. The wine and cheese set. Joe Sixpack. Volvos. Gun racks.

Two Americas.

Urban America.

Rural America.

Two Americas with divergent customs, rules, and wisdoms, inextricably wedded in conflicting attitudes, values, and beliefs.

Rural Americans tend to emphasize the basic needs for sustenance and safety, for a stable economy, fighting crime, strong defense forces; despite their hardy religious disposition, they are materialists.

Urban Americans tend to emphasize the social and self-actualization needs for a sense of belonging, more say in government, "ideas count," beautiful surroundings, and nature; they are post-materialists.

The urban majority has the votes. And the power. And the jobs. And the money. Urban dominance.

The rural minority has the logging shutdowns. And the mining stoppages. And the road moratoriums. And the fishing bans. And the ranching suspensions. And the farming restrictions. Rural cleansing.

While urban areas enjoy an economic boom, rural communities across the nation are suffering terrible social and economic pain. And the mass of Americans don’t have a clue.

How do you make the invisible visible?

THE VISIBLE DAMAGE

When the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) published its 1998 report, The Development Report Card for the States, it focused on the "urban-rural prosperity gap"—the degree to which rural areas trail urban areas in earnings and employment levels.

While national unemployment rates hover around 5% and urban centers may have only 2.8%, rural counties commonly suffer more than 10% joblessness, the report found. All fifty states were ranked using a list of statistics including employment growth, unemployment rate, average earnings and growth in earnings.

The phrase alone—"urban-rural prosperity gap"—is drenched in human drama. Urban mass media can see human drama. Associated Press editors saw. They assigned reporter Mark Jewell to cover the issue. The Los Angeles Times picked up one of his stories on the state with the widest urban-rural economic gap: Washington.

The commonplace image Washington State evokes is one of Boeing airplanes, Starbuck’s latte-land, Microsoft’s ultimo-rich chairman Bill Gates, and Seattle’s Space Needle with Mount Rainier, sentinel of wildness, hovering over skyscraper-jammed Puget Sound.

Urban Washington.

A.P. reporter Jewell looked for "the other Washington" in a little-known county named Pend Oreille (the locals pronounce it "Ponderay") and a small town there called Newport.

He wrote:

Separating this northeastern Washington town and Seattle are 300 miles as diverse as any on Earth—stark desert, the majestic Columbia River and the startling beauty of the Cascade Range.

But that expanse is trifling compared with the economic gap between this town and the state’s largest city.

The urban-rural economic gap in Washington state is the largest in the country, and for most of the state’s rural counties, the software millionaires and aerospace engineers of Puget Sound seem worlds away.

Pend Oreille County had 15% unemployment when Jewell’s story broke. Seattle had 2.8%. Marginal workers in Seattle groused about their lousy $7 or $8-an-hour wages. "A $7- to $8-an-hour job is a good job here," said Jim Jeffers, director of Pend Oreille County’s economic-development council.

The whole four-county northeastern tier of Washington State, butted up against the Canadian border, is the same. Just west of Pend Oreille County lies Stevens County (11.3% unemployment), then Ferry County (12.7% unemployment), then Okanogan County (12.4% unemployment), which runs westward all the way up to the crest of the Cascade Range, looking down on urban Puget Sound.

Washington Governor Gary Locke (D-Seattle) was perplexed by the report, urging the 1998 Legislature to lessen the economic chasm between the urban and rural sections of his state. Being home to the worst such split in the nation was a dishonor Locke said was unacceptable.
His proposed solution was the usual blind-sighted let’s-send-urban-things-to-rural-areas plan, replacing the resource class with a spectrum of urban gentry, rich retirees, modem gypsies, and welfare families.

Mark Jewell, unlike many journalists, reported the reasons for the gap. "There’s little mystery in why there is a gulf," he wrote. His take: Boeing and Microsoft were the high-tech wind beneath Puget’s Sound’s flourishing wings. Rural Washington, conversely, was being depressed by "new stricter environmental regulations." In a nutshell:

The disparity can be traced in part to a slump in natural resource-based industries like timber and mining—long the lifeblood of the rural West and now stymied by debate over new priorities that value forests over timber, mountains over mines.

He’s telling us the slump was policy-induced. Policy-induced. Induced by environmentalists. By a debate.

To many of us who don’t live in rural America, the idea of a debate by environmentalists thwarting the big multinational corporations behind timber and mining seems impossible, even absurd. Industrial fat cats can always finagle their way around government regulations, can’t they?

Likewise, city-dwellers just know that the slump is the fault of the loggers and miners, not those who value forests over timber, mountains over mines: loggers have cut down all the trees so there are none left, haven’t they? And miners have overmined the mountains until there’s only pollution left behind, haven’t they? And besides, they’re crude, destructive, uneducated, bigoted social misfits who deserve to be despised and vilified, aren’t they?

No sympathy there.

Rural dwellers who routinely see vast forests and untapped mineral deposits on their three-hour drive to the nearest international airport would chuckle knowingly at their ignorant city-brethren if they weren’t suffering so desperately from the effects of such ignorance.

And rural dwellers who have watched timber companies and mining companies depart after years of losing to environmentalist protests and legal challenges know firsthand that the big multinational corporations they used to work for—much less the little local outfits—are not invincible.

Washington State Representative Bob Sump (R-7th District) mourns that twenty years ago his rural locale, Ferry County, was self-sustaining. "Today," he says, "due to environmental over-regulation, it is an economic wasteland."

Just what is the "environmental over-regulation" Rep. Sump is talking about?

If you ask around rural Washington State—or anywhere in rural America, for that matter—you quickly discover an array of federal laws, government land ownerships competing against private property, agency actions, presidential proclamations, administration "initiatives," administrative appeals and a maze of obscure regulations so bewildering it defies description, much less comprehension.

One single environmentalist lawsuit, the highly publicized Spotted Owl dispute, shut down a substantial part of the federal timber harvest, resulting in the closure of 187 mills in Oregon, Washington and California and the loss of 22,654 jobs—and concentrated the timber industry in the hands of big companies that owned their own private timberlands.

Then the big timberland owners felt environmental laws reaching to their private lands as well. In 1998, giant Louisiana-Pacific—bleeding from product liability lawsuits over defective siding—sold off all its California timberlands when environmental restrictions made logging them too costly, both in lost revenues and in public relations damage control.

A few years later the Spotted Owl controversy migrated to the Southwest. Arizona's forest products industry was decimated in 1996 by a lawsuit brought by the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity (1997 income: $523,467) that extended a nine-month ban on commercial logging in eleven Southwestern national forests. The environmentalist suit claimed the U.S. Forest Service had failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the survival of Mexican spotted owls. U.S. District Judge Carl Muecke refused to lift the ban, which continued to close down sawmill after sawmill, leaving a few tribal enterprises as the remaining goods producers of timber. The trail of destruction left by Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and allies over the Mexican spotted owl is like the catastrophe left by the Audubon Society over the Northern spotted owl.

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

Things should be better in the sixteenth state down the urban-rural prosperity gap: Minnesota. But St. Louis County, Minnesota—the largest county in America—feels like it’s in a war, according to County Commissioner Dennis Fink. "The economy and the way of life of thousands of St. Louis County families are under attack," said Fink. "Radical environmentalism threatens to shut down logging on all federally owned lands."

Minnesota State Senator Sam Solon agrees. "The timber and wood products industry is a $7 billion segment of our state economy employing more than 61,000 workers," Sen. Solon said. "The U.S. Forest Service’s decision to place a moratorium on construction of new logging roads into Minnesota’s national forests has a chilling effect on our state’s timber and wood products industries.

David Glowaski, Mayor of the little town of Orr, Minnesota, is deeply troubled over the way things are going in his town. "For over 100 years the forest industry has been the heart and soul of our existence," Mayor Glowaski said. "Because urban America is becoming so economically affluent in comparison to rural America, which is declining economically, communities like ours cannot combat the powerful special interest organizations on an equal basis. Their economic power channeled through these environmental organizations in pursuit of their agendas are becoming more of a threat to our very existence in a life we love and want to maintain.

"Our children’s fears keep growing. Are we going to have to leave our homes? Is dad going to lose his job? Why can’t we hunt and fish where we used to? Everyday questions from the children in our community, including my own."

Glowaski and Fink worry about more than timber shutdowns. Government competition for land is a serious factor.

"Government is aggressively purchasing private lands to be set aside or removed from production," Commissioner Fink said. "A perfect example would be the proposed purchase and designation as ‘Prairie Grasslands,’ of some 77,000 acres in Western Minnesota."

Fink expresses the concerns of many rural residents about the actual result of all this land disappearing into government hands:

"It seems clear to me that there is the intent to remove our population from rural areas and resettle them in more populated ‘core areas’ with connecting corridors and buffer zones, leaving the vast amount of our land to nature, with little or no interference by humans," Fink says grimly.

A controversial notion.

"The evidence is in the actions: government agencies buying up private property at excessively high prices. The taking of private property through designations and regulation must stop!"

Once digested into the federal domain, private land never comes back. And the pace of land consumption by the government is accelerating. "In St. Louis County alone," says Fink, "22,000 acres were purchased in 1997 ‘to be preserved for our children.’ Today, 63% of our county is government owned. How much land needs to be set aside ‘for our children’ so they can’t use it either?"

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

But Fink is asking an important question:

WHO OWNS YOUR FUTURE?

The ownership of private property is considered by many to be the cornerstone of America’s freedom and success. The Supreme Court of the United States appears to agree. It held in the case of Lynch v. Household Finance Corporation, decided March 23, 1972:

[T]he dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights. The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less than the right to speak or the right to travel, is in truth, a ‘personal’ right, whether the ‘property’ in question be a welfare check, a home, or a savings account. In fact, a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right in property. Neither could have meaning without the other. That rights in property are basic civil rights has long been recognized.

If that is true, it is fair to ask what will become of the personal right to liberty if government becomes the nation’s dominant landowner.

And that leads to the question of how much of America’s 1,940,011,400 acres government already owns.

Here’s the score:

Urbanites are usually stunned to learn that the federal government manages a third—32.6 percent in 1992—of the entire nation, mostly in rural areas, "a huge federal domain of ownership that is hard to reconcile with the reputation this country has as a citadel of reliance on markets and the private sector," as the President’s Commission on Privatization reported in 1988.

To get a grip on the breadth of a federal government that runs almost one out of every three acres in the nation, consider that every one of the fifty states contains land owned by the federal government, not just the eleven Western states we usually think of as being federally dominated.

Delaware is 19% federally owned; New Jersey and New Hampshire are both 13.2% federal; Virginia is 11.8% federal; and the feds own more than 7% each of Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Western states, as reputed, really are dominated by federal ownership:

Nevada is more than 82% federal land; Alaska is 66%; Utah, 64%; Idaho, 62%; Oregon, 60%; Wyoming, 49%; California nearly 47%; Arizona 44%, and so forth down to Washington, at 26.8% the least federally owned Western state besides Hawaii (16.7%), which has other particulars that make comparisons problematic.

Then you have to figure out which federal agency owns how much. Some round numbers are useful for comparison.

l The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) manages about 192 million acres;
l the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages about 270 million acres;
l the National Park Service (NPS) manages about 80.7 million acres;
l and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages about 91 million acres.

That’s just the "biggies" in federal lands. It doesn’t count the land owned by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

You can see this summary for yourself on the Park Service website at http://www.nps.gov/legacy/acreage.html. The BLM’s website says it manages 264 million acres, not 270: close enough for government work.

Do the arithmetic and you get 632,700,000 acres, 32.6 percent, or, in round numbers, one-third of America.

On the other hand, the 1992 National Resource Inventory, carried out by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said there were 407,988,700 acres of federal land in 1992, 21 percent, a little over a fifth of America.

Only the federal government could lose track of 224,711,300 acres of land. What became of the difference?

Two things: some land was wrapped in weasel-words, and other land was obfuscated by accounting methods.

Weasel words: Notice that the statements above say the federal agency "manages" so-and-so many acres. It doesn’t say they own it. Manages.

Like that 80.7 million acres managed by the National Park Service: more than 2.8 million acres of it is private property. Says so on their own website.

Accounting methods: The National Resources Conservation Service doesn’t count lands managed by federal agencies unless they have deed and title. And the NCRS also didn’t count the Tennessee Valley Authority lands or a lot of other categories.

So we have a fifth of the nation in actual federal ownership, but a third of it under federal management.

Very clever, these bureaucrats.

There’s a lot of non-federal land out there behaving as if it were federal land. Who really owns it then?

You can argue about that in a court of law, but the federal government has two advantages over you: it never dies and it prints the money.

So much for federal land, theirs and yours.

But that doesn’t count the land owned by state and local governments.

How much is there?

The truth is, we don’t know.

The 1992 National Resource Inventory covered some 800,000 sample sites representing the nation’s non-federal land, theoretically including all non-federal government land, with what NCRS claims to be 95 percent reliability. Okay, 800,000 is a lot of sample sites.

Its inventory used a "state and local ownership" category that included land owned by states, counties or parishes, and municipalities. It came up with 6 percent of America’s 1.9 billion acres owned by state and local governments.

However, that’s not very convincing when you consider all the actual governments enumerated in the 1992 Census of Governments, which identified 85,006 government units that existed in the United States as of January 1992.

Yes, there are 85,006 governments in the United States.

In addition to the federal government and the 50 state governments, there are 84,955 units of local government. Of these, 38,978 are general-purpose local governments—3,043 county governments, and 35,935 subcounty general-purpose governments (including 19,279 municipal governments and 16,656 town or township governments). The remainder, more than half the total number, are special-purpose local governments, including 14,422 school district governments and 31,555 special district governments such as port authorities, local improvement districts, conservation districts, and so on.

There’s no indication that the NCRS counted the land owned by those 45,977 special-purpose local governments.

It did count certain Native American tribal lands as government lands, including "individual trust lands and land that is administered but not owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs." That showed 2 percent of America owned by tribal governments.

That’s a lot of competition against private property for land, the basic resource from which most fundamental production arises.

In actual fact, nobody, not the U.S. Census Bureau, not the National Conservation Resources Service, not the federal agencies, has a clue how much of America all these combined governments really own. Or control.

It could well be more than half.

And it’s growing steadily.

What this may portend for the personal right to liberty remains to be seen.

Where is the pressure coming from to eliminate the resource class and diminish private property ownership?

Is it all from little local groups like the ones in rural Washington?

Jim Hall said, "Tim Coleman came to visit me shortly after I was elected County Commissioner. He brought two friends. They were from the W. Alton Jones Foundation. They tried to convince me to back down on the platform I had run on, which was in favor of natural resource industry jobs in Ferry County. It took me awhile to realize that the W. Alton Jones Foundation was located in Virginia and had been giving a lot of money to environmental groups all over Washington. What were these out-of-state foundation men doing with a local environmentalist on their leash? What were they doing here at all?"

What indeed?

The W. Alton Jones Foundation was established in 1944 by "Pete" Jones, who had a distinguished career in the oil industry (the CITGO Oil fortune). He had no interest in environmentalism. His wife and daughter and grandchildren did. They outlived him and got his money. The foundation’s mission, according its current literature, is "to protect the Earth’s life-support systems from environmental harm and to eliminate the possibility of nuclear war." That’s the new version. We’ll see the original in the next chapter.

Financial data for fiscal year ended December 31, 1997: Assets: $370,538,404. Income (from a managed investment portfolio): $52,450,156. Total grants authorized: $26,983,718. Total grants disbursed: $25,261,551. 1998 grants budgeted: $32,000,000.

The W. Alton Jones Foundation makes grants in two areas: environmental protection through its Sustainable World Program, and nuclear warfare prevention through its Secure World Program.

But the way it makes grants is of particular interest.

Consider this advice to grant-seekers in its brochure:

The foundation works principally through foundation-defined initiatives addressing its priority issues. These initiatives usually take the form of coordinated grants to multiple institutions, each of which focuses on one or more components of an overall campaign defined by the foundation’s mission. Proposals for participation in these initiatives are invited by the foundation.

Note several key items:

Foundation-defined initiatives. In other words, a few foundation executives and staff members write the social engineering plan.

Coordinated grants. In other words, the social engineers orchestrate numerous agreeable groups to put the foundation’s plan in action.

Invited by the foundation. In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you if we think you’re worthy enough to do our bidding.

The W. Alton Jones Foundation is not responsive.

It is prescriptive.

It writes the social engineering prescription.

Okay, who gets invited to take W. Alton Jones Foundation money? Lots of people, evidently. Here’s a sample from the $2,511,855 that Jones orchestrated for grassroots projects in 1997, not counting the $11,582,550 they spent on their main environmental initiative, the Sustainable World Program:

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project May 1997 - $18,000. A Project of the League of Wilderness Defenders. Fossil, OR. For public education and forest monitoring efforts in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon.

Coast Range Association Nov 1997 - $52,000 over 2 years. Newport, OR. To organize grassroots watershed groups in Oregon and educate the public about forest watershed protection.

Columbia River Bioregional Education Project May 1997 - $10,000. Oroville, WA. To monitor Forest Service timber sales and promote environmental education in the Okanogan Valley of eastern Washington.

Environmental Protection Information Center Nov 1997 - $40,000. Garberville, CA. To protect the privately held Headwaters redwood forest in northern California.

Headwaters Nov. 1997 - $80,000 over 2 years. Ashland, OR. To promote the economic and social benefits of environmental protection and build a stronger base for forest conservation in southwestern Oregon.

Kettle Range Conservation Group May 1997 - $15,000. Republic, WA. To protect ancient forests and conduct forest watch activities in the Columbia River highlands of northwest Washington state.

Klamath Forest Alliance Nov 1997 - $80,000 over 2 years. Etna, CA. To build a community-based constituency for forest protection, and to influence Forest Service management in northern California and southwestern Oregon.

It takes a certain talent to read these grants. They’re written in foundationese, a language of genteel euphemisms and pretentious circumlocutions.

For example, that first grant of $18,000 "For public education and forest monitoring efforts in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon."

What does that mean?

The $18,000 went to the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, a little group based in Fossil, Oregon, and run by a dreadlock-coifed man named Michael Christensen, who uses the alias Asanté Riverwind.

W. Alton Jones Foundation gave Mr. Riverwind’s group $11,410 in 1994, $13,140 in 1995, $18,000 in 1996, and another $18,000 in 1997.

While being supported by W. Alton Jones Foundation grants, Mr. Riverwind had a federal conviction for blocking Forest Service Road 4555 on the Malheur National Forest on March 21, 1996 with an overturned pickup truck and logs, cutting off access to the Reed Fire Salvage Timber Sale, where units were actively being logged. Perhaps that is what foundationese means by "forest monitoring."

After federal law enforcement officer Gale Wall served Riverwind with at least five Notices of Violation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Sheldal filed an Information (prosecutor’s indictment) against Riverwind, who entered a guilty plea to one count of blocking a federal government road by leaving a wrecked vehicle and erecting barriers, a misdemeanor. On May 8, 1997, Federal Judge Ancer Hagerty of the United States District Court in Portland, Oregon, ordered Riverwind to pay a $300 fine, $252.52 restitution and a $25 fee assessment, and placed him on probation until restitution was paid. Riverwind paid the next day. Case No. 9757.

Law enforcement documents show the cost of cleaning up Mr. Riverwind’s mess was $15,886.60. Minus Riverwind’s payment of a total of $577.52, that leaves the taxpayer $15,309.08 short.

Why didn’t the W. Alton Jones Foundation step up to the cashier with its deep pockets and pay for their grantee’s mischief? It’s not clear. If we can believe their brochures, Mr. Riverwind had been invited to take their money and use it for "foundation-defined initiatives." Well, whose work product was the blockade, anyway?

And another thing: The W. Alton Jones Foundation grant to Tim Coleman’s Kettle Range Conservation Group—"To protect ancient forests and conduct forest watch activities in the Columbia River highlands of northwest Washington state"—doesn’t mention sending two foundation men from headquarters in Virginia to intimidate Ferry County commissioner Jim Hall out of keeping his campaign promises to support natural resource production. You just have to know what "protecting ancient forests" means in foundationese.

Artful grant descriptions aside, it’s fairly clear from these sample grants that W. Alton Jones Foundation doesn’t want anybody logging or mining much of anywhere—certainly not in rural Washington state.

But how can Tim Coleman’s little group do such economic damage? Even with a big foundation’s money behind it?

It can’t. Not alone, anyway.

Remember, other groups filed appeals on the Okanogan and Colville National Forests, too. And they had wealthy foundations pulling their strings, too. In a highly organized and coordinated fashion.

It’s interesting to see the pattern of funding behind all these groups:

Kettle Range Conservation Group (Republic, Washington); EIN 943175114; Income: $81,635 Assets: $49,507 Last filed: Feb 1997 Exempt since July 1996.

Sample Grants:

1997 $10,000 Bullitt Foundation.

1996 $15,000 Brainerd Foundation. To protect the roadless areas and ancient forests of the Okanogan, Kettle and Columbia Highlands regions of north-central Washington and south-central British Columbia, and to support development and dissemination of restoration guidelines for recovery of bull trout.

1996 $1,500 Brainerd Foundation. Hardware and Technical Assistance grant.

1996 $18,000 W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc. To protect forests and conduct forest watch activities in Colville and Okanogan National Forests.

1996 $11,500 Bullitt Foundation. To oversee management activities on private, state and federal lands in north central and eastern Washington and south central British Columbia.

1995 $18,450 W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc. To protect ancient forest and conduct forest watch activities in Colville and Okanogan National Forests.

1994 $18,450 W. Alton Jones Foundation, Inc. To monitor forestry practices in the Colville and Okanogan National Forests.

Okanogan Highlands Alliance; EIN 911571661 Income: $50,783 Assets: $32,461; Last filed: Feb 1996; Exempt since Jan 1993.

Sample grants:

1997 $15,000 Brainerd Foundation. To support continued efforts to challenge the permitting of an open-pit, cyanide-leach gold mine, and to empower its rural community and the state to hold the green line against a large, multinational mining corporation.

1996 $10,000 Brainerd Foundation. For a public education and outreach effort concerning a proposed cyanide leach open-pit gold mine on Buckhorn Mountain.

1996 $30,000 Bullitt Foundation. To challenge Battle Mountain Gold Company’s proposal for open-pit, cyanide-leach gold mine in Okanogan Highlands

1994 $35,000 Bullitt Foundation. To challenge proposed development of first large, open-pit cyanide-leach gold mine in Washington.

Some interesting patterns appear in the grants that these appeal-writers get. You no doubt noticed that certain names show up more than once. And they’re only connected to grants that sound wonderful in foundationese, but have no effect other than rural cleansing, eradication of timber and mining and ranching and other natural resource industries.

Names like W. Alton Jones Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, Turner Foundation. Year after year. Almost like they were deliberately trying to destroy rural goods producing economies.

It’s worth a quick look at one of them: the Bullitt Foundation, based in Seattle, Washington. It was established in 1952 by Dorothy S. Bullitt, real-estate mogul, member of so many boards that her resume reads like a Seattle history text, and founder of King Broadcasting Company, the local NBC affiliate. When Bullitt died in 1989, her two daughters, Harriet Stimson Bullitt and Priscilla ("Patsy") Bullitt Collins, privileged children of a Northwest legend, took over the foundation with other family members and turned it to a single-minded purpose:

The foundation has one primary goal: to protect and restore the natural physical environment of the Pacific Northwest. The foundation prefers to fund projects that leverage resources, show possibilities for multiplier effects, address priority needs where government fails, and show discernible impact.

These people who never had to work for their money now have assets in excess of $103,000,000 and income of $9,772,795 (from investments) of which they gave away $5,064,200 in 1998.

That’s a lot of people wanting to end natural resource extraction in rural America. But that long list explains a good deal of how little outfits like the Kettle Range Conservation Group can have a devastating effect on rural economies. They have friends. Coordinated, orchestrated friends.

Harriet Bullitt and Patsy Bullitt Collins, orchestrators, are classic patricians, world’s best directors of everybody else’s lives, intolerant of opposing views, determined to retire the resource class.

Patsy tells the story about going as a child during the 1930s to a bee farm in Woodinville, a tiny town near Seattle: "I used to go sit in the woods with a friend and try to go to Nirvana," Patsy says. "We’d close our eyes and say, ‘Ommm.’ At our 50th reunion, we both remembered that and I asked her, ‘Did we really get there, to Nirvana?’ And she said, ‘Yes, it’s just that we never came back.’ Now I go to Woodinville and I get lost. It’s a suburb. Where’s the little bee farm? This is very silly and romantic, I suppose, but it is a part of our life. When you see something and then it’s gone, you say, ‘Does it all have to go?’"

Harriet is just as determined as she looks out from her houseboat on Seattle’s Lake Union (Sleepless In Seattle was filmed nearby). She can see across the water to where her grandfather’s timber company clearcut a forest to build the Ballard section of town. Her money came from cutting trees before it came from broadcasting.

"We grew up around big cedars and clear water," she says. "When it begins to change it’s like a disaster happening to your family."

Harriet is infuriated at the idea of anybody else cutting trees.

That’s the Bullitt sisters. Their philanthropy is pure revenge.

Rural cleansing. Destroy rural America to save it.

Even the Seattle Times, itself owned by Seattle nobility (the Blethen family), had to comment—politely, of course—about how batty, dogmatic and even rabid the Bullitt sisters could be in their environmental crusade:

They were raised in the sheltered atmosphere of the old Seattle aristocracy, and it’s no surprise that their view of the environment is romantic and simplistic. Even they admit it. Eccentric hobbies aside, they’ve been so elusive publicly that what does come as a surprise is that beneath the well-bred dignity and naivete, they’re strong-willed and focused, perhaps even calculating, when it comes to their cause.

CIRCLING THE WAGONS

Rural families all over the Pacific Northwest say "Amen!" to that.

Traditionally, rural America has fought back with little citizen groups that pop up everywhere a new restriction is proposed. In the early 1990s, in the tiny town of Chesaw, Washington, a group called the Common Sense Resource League formed to counter out-of-town protests against Battle Mountain Gold Company’s proposed new Crown Jewel gold mine nearby.

"This country was founded on mining and logging back 100 years ago when my grandfather homesteaded this land," said Bob Hirst, then-president of the League. Hirst, now in his early 70s, was elected an Okanogan County commissioner in 1998.

The conflict in Chesaw pitted loggers, ranchers and farmers, whose families settled the region, against big-city activists who allied themselves with a handful of back-to-the-land families that moved to Chesaw more than 20 years ago, but are still considered newcomers.

A local environmental group called the Okanogan Highlands Alliance (see chart, page 13) has conducted a campaign against the mine for years. The group’s leader, David Kliegman, has in-depth contacts with big money: the Bullitt Foundation gave the group $25,000 in 1998 with the blunt comment, "The grant supports the organization’s efforts to halt Battle Mountain Gold’s proposed mine and prevent a precedent for chemical-leach mining in Washington State."

You can almost see Patsy crying over the bee farm.

When the Forest Service approved the Crown Jewel mine, Kliegman used the computer network of the environmental movement—funded in part by Seattle-based desktop-publishing millionaire Paul Brainerd (he created PageMaker)—to generate vociferous protests.

Brainerd is another story. We’ll unfold that in the next chapter.

The conflict followed a well-worn pattern: environmentalists striving to generate a level of anxiety sufficient to kill the mine and demean Houston-based Battle Mountain; supporters touting the mine’s safety features and economic benefits and bragging up Battle Mountain’s excellent operating plan.

Ground has yet to be broken for the Crown Jewel mine.

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

With these rich rural cleansing foundations behind the scenes all over the country to block forestry and mining and farming and ranching, you’d be inclined to think they get together and strategize it.

They do.

STRINGS

It’s called the Environmental Grantmakers Association. EGA is an informal unincorporated association of some 200 foundations and donor programs. It is the power elite of environmentalism. Many of the environmental movement’s programs are designed by EGA member foundations, not by the organizations we commonly think of as environmental groups. Collectively, EGA members give over half a billion dollars each year to environmental groups.

That’s a good start on total enviromania.

Let’s see a little of how they do it.

Maine sits squarely in the middle of the nation’s urban-rural prosperity gap list, tied for 25th place with Michigan. Maine has very little federal land, and therefore its rural areas should have very little problem with grant-driven environmentalists and the prescriptive foundations behind them, right?

Wrong again.

A consortium of thirty-five environmental groups is trying to nationalize and de-develop huge chunks of Maine—and New Hampshire and Vermont and upstate New York—so there will be 26 million acres of federal land there.

Preposterous? Not a bit.

The Northern Forest Alliance is the name of the consortium, and their stated goal is: "To achieve a sustainable future for the 26-million-acre Northern Forest, in which its Wildlands are permanently protected, its forests are sustainably managed, and its local economies and communities are strong and vibrant."

If that sounds a lot like foundationese, read on.

A little background helps.

The idea for the Northern Forest Alliance came from a 1982 National Park Service report. It proposed the federalization of twenty-seven huge "landscapes" in "The Northern Forest." The Park Service gave its "landscapes" such names as the "Catskills" in New York, the "Northeast Kingdom" in New Hampshire and Vermont, the "North Woods" and the "Washington County Coast" in Maine. They wanted to do a big federal study.

That was in the Reagan years, and the Park Service realized they would not get money to plan a massive expansion of the same federal domain that the Reagan administration was busy trying to sell off. So they turned their project over to the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA), a private environmental group that was created in 1919 by Stephen Mather, the first Park Service director. Mather’s purpose for the organization was to do things for the Park Service it could not do for itself, like create plans for a massive expansion of the federal domain.

In 1988 the NPCA completed its work, unveiling the grand plan for wholesale federalization of the Northern Forest as well as other areas of the country. The plan urged "mega-conservation reserves in the northeast" and proposed eight huge new national parks in the Northern Forest.

Realizing that locals would not likely welcome a federal takeover, the NPCA called New England the "conservation challenge of the 1990’s." Environmental groups then used the NPCA plan as a map as they lobbied for a government study. In late 1988 they convinced Congress to authorize a Northern Forest Land Study to be conducted by a Northern Forest Lands Council, largely staffed by Forest Service bureaucrats. Congress also authorized the Forest Legacy Program, which made the affected states eligible for federal acquisition monies to purchase conservation easements, which are agreements not to develop your property.

The Council and the study and the Legacy Program generated explosive controversy. Ask Erich Veyhl of Concord, Massachusetts, who organized homeowners on the Maine coast. Or ask Bob Voight of Lubec, Maine, who co-founded Maine Conservation Rights Institute. They’ve both been fighting to keep private lands in private hands since these land-taking proposals first surfaced. They had plenty to fight.

In 1990, Michael Kellett, the Wilderness Society’s New England director, told a Tufts University audience about the 26-million acre Northern Forest, "I think it’s likely this will all end up, most of this will end up being public land, not by taking away, but that will probably be really the only alternative."

Then, Brock Evans, a vice president of the National Audubon Society, told the Tufts audience, "For a century, I think it’s safe to say, timber companies up there have owned all 26 million acres. Once it was all public domain, then it went to the private domain where it’s been for a very long time. I don’t agree that we can’t get it all back. You have lots of strong urban centers where support comes from. We should get all of it. Be unreasonable. You can do it."

Two Americas.

Urban America.

Rural America.

Save rural America from the people who live there.

Rural cleansing.

To the public, it’s not at all apparent what role foundations had in making the Northern Forest Alliance happen. On the face of it, the Alliance seems like a spontaneous, if remarkably unusual, gathering of organizations with sometimes competing goals and always competing needs for funding.

If you had been a fly on the wall at the Environmental Grantmakers Association annual retreat in October 1992, you would have heard a foundation man named Chuck Clusen explain the Northern Forest Alliance to other foundation leaders, beginning with his personal background, which is also useful for our own understanding:

"Well, during the 1970s and ’80s," said Clusen, "I was involved as an advocate in a great number of forest issues in large part dealing with wilderness. I started at the Sierra Club where I was for eight years. Then I was Vice President for Programs at the Wilderness Society for eight years. I also was greatly involved in the Alaska lands. I led the Alaska Lands Coalition during the lands fight in the late ’70s and 1980s. And in the late ’80s I spent a period of time in the Adirondacks. I was the Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. So my background is advocacy, it’s public lands, it’s land use regulations and so forth. Now for three years I’ve been with the American Conservation Association, which is a foundation. It’s Laurance Rockefeller’s foundation. He has specialized over the many years in sort of land use kinds of issues.

"In any case, the environmental community across these four states, which really did not have a history of collaboration, has come together in a very large coalition called the Northern Forest Alliance, and now [1992] has I think 28 organizations. It has the major national groups as well as all the principal state groups in these four states.

"And I’ve been working with them over the last year and a half. One, on their development of political strategies and so on. But also to facilitate their development of a campaign plan very similar to the Alaska situation as to a campaign that will probably go on for at least a decade."

Cold, calculated, relentless green greed.

And they’re pulling it off.

On March 3, 1999, the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF, 1997 income, $1,870,237, assets $16,881,228) announced that the wealthy industrialists of the Pingree Family would sell them the development rights to 754,673 acres of northern Maine forestland—approximately 80 percent of their land-for $28 million.

The conservation easement "prohibits all structural development and promotes sustainable forest management." It is not clear if "sustainable forest management" includes timber harvest at commercial levels.

It was the largest forestry restriction project of its kind ever attempted, an area twenty percent larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Join the American Farm Bureau in thinking about conservation easements for a second: You retain title to the land, but you have sold important rights to use it. You obtain a tax write off immediately and lower taxes thereafter. In the near term, the cash and the tax benefits are good for the land owner. But what happens if you or your heirs cannot afford those lower taxes any more? Or when the time comes to sell your land? Who would buy land that has a hampered use or income stream? The government, of course.

In December of 1998, the Conservation Fund purchased over 300,000 acres from Champion International in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York and pursued state, federal and private funding to close the deal.

A few weeks later, the Nature Conservancy announced the purchase of 185,000 acres along Maine’s St. John River from International Paper, adjacent to the Pingree lands. A high Nature Conservancy official, Daniel R. Efroymson, is also vice-president of the Moriah Fund.

The Champion and International Paper lands are outright purchases, one already looking for government owners.

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

POWER

While it’s true that the power and pressure of grant-driven environmental groups and prescriptive private foundations can begin the dismantling of industrial civilization in rural America, it takes the force of government to finish the job.

The Northern Forest project, for example, would be impossible without the help of activist federal employees: High-ranking administration appointees who made sure the right people got on staff, Forest Service personnel who staffed the Northern Forest Lands Council, Park Service personnel who contributed to the Northern Forests Lands Study, lower-level technical employees who gave special access to their environmental soul-mates and none to natural resource workers and property rights defenders.

Then there are the government grants.

What? Government gives money to private environmental groups?

Yes, by the billions.

For example, several members of the Northern Forest Alliance received grants from the Environmental Protection Agency: Appalachian Mountain Club, $5,000; National Wildlife Federation, $306,237; Natural Resources Defense Council, $749,301; Trout Unlimited, $24,000; Trust for Public Land, $30,000; World Wildlife Fund, $1,220,540.

Government officials feeding their pigs.

GOOD NIGHT, COWBOYS

Nevada is practically the bottom—Number 48—of the urban-rural prosperity gap chart, so you wouldn’t expect its rural hinterlands to be suffering much, certainly not as much as Maine (#25), New Hampshire (#29), and Vermont (#41).

Wrong again.

Because most of those arid hinterlands are inhabited by self-employed ranchers and farmers who pay their few hired hands decent wages, there’s not much unemployment to measure alongside the jobless of Las Vegas and Reno.

The Monitor Valley of central Nevada is a forbidding Great Basin desert to tourists but a lush mountain-held Eden to the folks who live there. And those ranchers and farmers out by Fallon and Tonopah are being hit hard by environmentalists just the same as elsewhere.

Only in this case the environmentalists work for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation.

And they’re using every regulation and every technicality they can devise to get rid of those ranchers and farmers.

George Benesch used to be a resource economist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Toiyabe National Forest, which covers a good bit of central Nevada. Benesch is now an attorney specializing in water and grazing issues and represents beleaguered ranchers and farmers.

He charges that the Forest Service is regularly deploying legal and administrative attacks for the purpose of getting privately owned resources away from U.S. citizens without paying them fair market prices.

Few ranchers and farmers in Nevada have the financial resources to defend themselves from unlawful or arbitrary actions by the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, says Benesch. Most are busy simply scrambling to make a living.

"And that’s what makes it real tough, because it’s all you can do to keep your fences repaired, and maybe to get a couple of new fields re-seeded, and cut your hay, and irrigate the stuff."

"I can name twenty ranchers that have gone broke," says Benesch.
"The feds just shake the tree," is the way he puts it. "If you do it long enough, pretty soon everything falls off."

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

ENERGY DRAIN

The environmentalist shock treatment has hit none harder than the oil and gas exploration community. These are the wildcat oilmen of American legend who still walk every basin, examine and re-examine every geological formation, and take every risk to bring in that big one.

George M. Yates is a third generation New Mexico oilman. His grandfather was a pioneer oilman who brought in the first productive oil well in Southeastern New Mexico back in 1924. His father got into the oil business after he graduated from college as a geologist in the 1930s. Yates has been in the oil business since 1969.

Yates currently serves as chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and is a former director of the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation.

"Let me tell you a story," said George Yates.

"In 1997, after exploring several years, I found an oil and gas prospect in a New Mexico basin that had never produced. That was a tremendous achievement that very few explorationists see.

"I had federal leases on a fairly large acreage in an approved Bureau of Land Management oil and gas unit. The location looked great. I had seismic. I had a structure there with enough potential to talk a couple of partners into joining with me and drilling a well.

"My leases were time-limited, and we ran into an unavoidable delay. Getting an extension from the BLM under such circumstances is usually no problem. But the BLM refused to grant my extension.

"It was denied, BLM said, because an unidentified environmental group had claimed that my drilling site was in the habitat of an endangered species.

"So, before my lease ran out, we moved in a rig and drilled and made a discovery. We discovered gas seventy miles from existing production. A new field. The chances of that were probably one in a hundred.

"Now we needed to lease more land in the basin to claim the entire discovery. But BLM refused to do any leasing pending a review of the area.

"That discovery still sits in the ground. The stoppage was instigated by an environmental group that has not come out of the shadows. There has never been a public hearing.

"Oil and gas exploration in the United States is going the way of mining, and outside of Nevada, there hasn’t been a new mine approved in America in something like ten years."

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

MOTOR TRAIL BLUES

Environmental groups often say their pressure on the resource class is for the benefit of recreation—for Americans outdoors.

That misrepresents the real agenda, says Clark Collins, executive director of the Pocatello, Idaho-based Blue Ribbon Coalition, a grassroots umbrella group supporting motorized recreation, including snowmobiling, trail biking, off-road trekking and many non-motorized recreations such as horse packing and mountain bicycling. More than 300 recreation groups make up the coalition.48

Collins, an Idaho native, came to his present position the hard way: he found his own favorite outdoor recreation, trail biking, thrown out of one area after another by environmentalists.

"That did it," Collins said. "I got a bunch of my friends and fellow recreationists together and we systematically removed those endorsements. Except for the governor. When I finally got a chance to meet with Governor John Evans, he told me, ‘You people are politically insignificant.’ That hit me right between the eyes.

"Looking back on it, he was probably just explaining political realties to me, but I vowed I was going to change that reality. So I started the Idaho Public Land Users Association, which soon went national and became the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

"We’ve become politically significant now because we’re organized. We got Congress to pass a Recreational Trails Act that protected motorized recreation from environmentalist shutouts.

"But it’s been an uphill battle. The federal agencies have become so riddled with green advocacy group members that we’re having trouble protecting our rights."

In 1995, Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), investigated what he called illegal lobbying by the Bureau of Land Management, whose employees spoke against a congressional rangeland reform plan and for Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s own reform measures.

Babbitt himself, while president of the League of Conservation Voters, revealed his mission for environmental issues, "We must identify our enemies and drive them into oblivion."

With grant-driven environmental groups carrying the message.

And prescriptive foundations writing the message.

Rural cleansing. Dismantling industrial civilization piece by piece.

VILIFYING GOODS-PRODUCERS

The societal consequences of the iron triangle’s success have yet to be measured. One impact, however, is getting some academic scrutiny: the vilification and moral exclusion of the resource class.

Rural goods producers, primarily loggers and miners, have been subjected to a campaign of vilification and moral exclusion similar to racism. Messages in the media, academia and official government reports make them perceive that their way of life is under attack by environmentalists in particular and the urban majority in general. Environmentalists file appeals or lawsuits that have sudden devastating effects on goods-producers. Government and media messages tell goods-producers they are "obsolete" as if goods were no longer necessary. Goods-producers live in a climate of occupational prejudice not unlike race prejudice.

We have run into what University of Washington Professor Robert Lee calls "the hidden dangers of moral persuasion, a kind of mind control the federal government is now practicing in an effort to change public attitudes about resource management and management of federal forests in the Pacific Northwest."

Dr. Lee came to this conclusion when he was invited to work with scientists in the administration’s Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team (FEMAT) after the 1993 Timber Summit (see pp. 228-229). He found them to be making policy, not gathering information so that others could decide on proper policy. He objected. They told him to shut up and get with the program. No diversity of views allowed. Especially not views that respected the dignity of loggers, miners and ranchers.

He quit. And wrote a book about the ominous attitudes he saw.

"Using guilt, shame and ridicule to control people, and to reshape their values, holds terrifying political ramifications," Dr. Lee said. "FEMAT is a classic example of moral persuasion, using the same social control techniques used in China and North Korea. At times, these techniques have also been used by our own government and some U.S. companies. I don’t want my mind rearranged by others."

So he wrote Broken Trust, Broken Land — Freeing Ourselves From the War over the Environment. In it he exposed the government’s refusal to acknowledge the cultural upheaval it was causing.

Bob Lee was ostracized for his pains, a story predictable to most academicians. He is a fearless pioneer in stripping away the moral high ground from beneath those who practice moral exclusion.

But the exclusion and vilification goes on.

Richard Larson, associate editor of the Seattle Times, found himself attacked by environmentalists and fellow editors when he wrote a column about some of those inconvenient truths, particularly that the environmental movement had already stopped logging in all but a tiny remnant of federal lands where commercial timber harvest and replanting was still permitted. Larson was forced to shut up.

Urban readers accepted negative portrayals without thought or objection.

They did not know or care that vast commercial forests remain and have long been designated as America’s timber supply.

They did not know or care that vast noncommercial forests have been permanently protected, never to be logged.

Loggers had been vilified into moral exclusion—no longer quite human, proper targets for extirpation.

They deserve to be swept aside to save nature.

The urban newspaper portrayals matched urban reader prejudices. The urban newspapers knew their urban audience.

But their urban audience did not know what was behind their own invisible prejudices.

Grant-driven environmental groups.

Prescriptive foundations.

Zealous bureaucrats.

They’re destroying America’s resource class.

They’re destroying America’s property owners.

No one sees.

No one cares.

 

 

This sample chapter for the Web made available by agreement with the author. Buy the Book by Ron Arnold