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Know the West

Let's not blame each other

  Dear HCN,

As an activist and a writer, I am dismayed by the acrimony being flung by enviros toward enviros around the West regarding the recent decision by Judge Downes in the wolf reintroduction case. The editorial in The New York Times by Thomas McNamee, as well as pieces appearing in High County News, raise charges of purism, directing acrimony at Audubon and the Earthjustice Legal Foundation. Several things disturb me.

1. It's absolutely amazing to me that the co-plaintiffs are never mentioned in any of the articles - as if the grassroots organizations Predator Project, the Gray Wolf Committee and Sinapu don't exist and are non-players on the wolf-reintroduction stage. All these groups have moved the wolf issue on a variety of fronts. And in the West, one could make a strong argument that these groups are the cutting-edge players - not Audubon. What this all smacks of, even in the dispensation of acrimony, is that the grass roots don't count. And I maintain that it is this attitude by national groups that got us into the current mess.

2. Why is it when enviros lose one, there is a feeding frenzy on the enviros? Neither Tom Skeele of Predator Project, nor Doug Honnold of Earthjustice, wanted wolves removed from central Idaho or Yellowstone. The obvious villains - the hyper-conservative judiciary in Wyoming and the Farm Bureau - are skating from scrutiny. Instead of directing the rage against our own, we must direct it against the true villains.

The reality is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with their experimental, nonessential designation, as well as the Nez Perce Tribe, set up all sorts of palliatives for ranchers objecting to wolf reintroduction. Defenders of Wildlife set up a compensation fund for any livestock losses experienced by ranchers. However, this was still not enough - and nothing ever will be.

We need a new paradigm for activism. Instead of nattering neo-liberalist attempts to build weak, easily broken alliances with our enemies, we must make strong alliances with each other. If one of us steps out on a different path, the burden should be on that person to sell their program to the rest of us.

Charles Pezeshki

Troy, Idaho

Charles Pezeshki is director of the Clearwater Biodiversity Project.