Samantha Sanchez

Recent Articles

How the West Is Won: Astroturf Lobbying and the "Wise Use" Movement

How corporate developers have used grassroots organizing to disguise their attack on environmental protection -- and how activists in one state stopped them.

T he term "wise use" comes from Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the U.S. Forest Service, who used it to describe the conservation movement. Pinchot chose words that implied balance, not to mention a fundamental concern for the well-being of the environment. Today Pinchot's term has been turned on its head, appropriated by a corporate-sponsored campaign to roll back environmental protection in the West, where billions of dollars ride on decisions about the use of government-regulated property. This is the story of how the "wise use" movement--a coalition of timber, mining, oil, and grazing interests--has skewed the debate over land use. It is a tale of political contributions, well-connected lobbyists, and, most important, corporate-financed grassroots organizing that has become a model for kindred political operatives around the country. This is also the story of how environmentalists in the state of Washington fended off development activists in one key battle, providing some hope...