FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Boldness in Defense of Forests and Wolves

by DOUGLAS BEVINGTON

The arrival of Earth Day offers a good time to remember that the most significant achievements of the environmental movement often come from grassroots activists who are on the frontlines of stopping the despoilers of nature. To emphasize that crucial point, the Fund for Wild Nature created its Grassroots Activist of the Year Award to celebrate bold action to defend wildlife and wild places. This year’s award winner is Denise Boggs, director of Conservation Congress.

Denise epitomizes the spirit of boldness that leads to real success in protecting wild nature. She founded Conservation Congress in 2004 to protect places and species that needed uncompromising defense. Conservation Congress is a great example of a small group having a big impact.

One main area of focus for Conservation Congress is the national forests in northern California that are home to the Northern spotted owl.  The spotted owl is designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, but the Forest Service continues to aggressively develop new logging projects in the critical habitat and late successional reserves that were ostensibly created to protect the owl’s forest dwellings.

Denise began vigorously applying the citizen enforcement provisions of the Endangered Species Act in order to stop the Forest Service’s logging projects in spotted owl habitat in northern California. Her willingness to take these steps is leading to big changes. Conservation Congress is currently in court challenging seven timber sales on three national forests. The Forest Service has recently halted all of the timber sales being litigated by Conservation Congress while it reevaluates potential harms to the spotted owl from the proposed logging.

Last year, the Forest Service withdrew the “Salt” timber sale on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest after Conservation Congress filed suit. This project would have harmed over 4000 acres of forest in a watershed that has already been heavily logged. The impact of Conservation Congress’s work is abundantly evident on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. In 2007, the Shasta-Trinity had by far the highest level of logging of any national forest in California. Five years later, thanks to Denise’s committed defense of that forest, logging levels there have plummeted by over 63 percent!

Denise Boggs in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Photo: Doug Bevington.

Denise Boggs hugging an old-growth tree at the Porcupine Timber Sale in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Photo: Douglas Bevington.

Denise Boggs first began challenging misbehavior by the Forest Service in the late 1980s when she was working for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. There she coordinated the first multi-agency GIS analysis of elk habitat in Montana. Even though the Forest Service was participating in the study, it continued to propose numerous timber sales that would damage key elk habitat, so Denise decided to take action. She filed appeals of these timber sales as a private citizen and provided key information to a local environmental organization challenging the logging. Soon Denise decided to do environmental activism full-time. Throughout the 1990s, she worked with a variety of grassroots groups on wildlife and ecosystem protection.

In 1998, Denise founded the Utah Environmental Congress to provide a bold voice on national forest issues in Utah.  As executive director of UEC, she successfully challenged numerous logging projects. By the time she stepped down as director in order to create Conservation Congress, the volume of timber sold from the national forests in Utah had fallen by 66 percent! Since 2004, Denise has served on the board of directors of UEC, and UEC has continued to be an important grassroots conservation advocate in Utah. For example, in February, the Forest Service withdrew the “Iron Springs” logging project in response to an appeal filed by the UEC, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Native Ecosystems Council. This project would have logged over eight square miles of forest, including old-growth and proposed wilderness.

In addition to forest protection, both Conservation Congress and UEC have also been involved in wolf advocacy and litigation. As is characteristic of the most effective grassroots activists, Denise has been unabashed in criticizing political deal-making that sacrifices core environmental safeguards, such as a legislative rider in 2012 by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) that stripped Endangered Species Act protection for wolves.  In one news article, Denise stated, “This wasn’t even about the wolf. It was about keeping Tester in office. Obama and Salazar calculated that they could sacrifice the wolf—and the ESA—in order to keep Tester’s seat in Congress.” Conservation Congress is currently a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit to restore protections for wolves in Wyoming. Meanwhile, UEC is working on restoring wolves in Utah.

Both Conservation Congress and Utah Environmental Congress are doing this important work with financial support from the Fund for Wild Nature. The Fund for Wild Nature was created by grassroots activists to help fund the boldest grassroots groups, knowing how difficult it can be for these groups to get assistance from large foundations, and also recognizing how even a small amount of money for these groups can lead to big results. Unlike other foundations, the Fund for Wild Nature depends entirely on donations from the public, which it then redistributes to support worthy grassroots biodiversity protection groups throughout North America. In addition to providing grants, the Fund sponsors the Grassroots Activist of the Year Award as another way to promote bold activism. The Fund is honored to offer the award this year to Denise Boggs. Through her many accomplishments with Conservation Congress and Utah Environmental Congress, Denise Boggs demonstrates the power and effectiveness of bold grassroots environmental activism.

Douglas Bevington is the author of The Rebirth of Environmentalism: Grassroots Activism from the Spotted Owl to the Polar Bear (Island Press, 2009) and is a member of the all-volunteer board of directors of the Fund for Wild Nature.

 

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull, 500 Years of Trauma
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Gordon Smith
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
stclair
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered, Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail