In pursuit of crooked feds

  • Robin Silver as Santa presenting tree to Ariz. Gov. Symington

    Peter Aleshire photo

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Robin Silver: "The key to our success? Corrupt government officials and a Justice Department that condones corruption. Even conservative judges are consistently recognizing that the federal land managers are criminals. We're dealing with dishonest federal officials. Period.

"We also prepare compulsively. We've got a group of completely dedicated, committed activists combined with a group of tireless, committed, talented attorneys - and the combination of a setting of consistent federal corruption has led to many of our successes.

"Decades of talk on the part of environmentalists yielded nothing. The only people that say you should sit down, and talk, and not use lawsuits, are naive, ignorant or have never dealt consistently with an agency as corrupt as the United States Forest Service.

"I mean, Bruce Babbitt personally ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service not to file critical habitat on water umbel, and personally changed the habitat protection maps for the willow flycatcher. This goes all the way through all of these agencies.

"The only real hope is in the fact that the public has acknowledged that public lands and the wildlife on public lands are valuable. As more and more people become offended by the fact that public officials and land-management agencies are promoting the destruction of wildlife and habitat, more and more people will get upset, and things will change.

"Unfortunately, money still talks more than law or the public's values. Maybe we should make contributions to the Democratic and Republican national committees, and then maybe these public values will receive more recognition.

"The only thing that the politicians understand is cash, and we don't have enough to buy them. And the only thing that the land managers understand is keeping the politicians happy. So we've been forced to resort to the courts."

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