Landscalping: The Arrogance of Modern Resourcism

This is an essay by Dave Foreman of the Rewilding Institute. It appeared in New West.

Landscalping: The Arrogance of Modern Resourcism

Foreman is correct, I think that some conservation groups have given into resourcism, with the Nature Conservancy being a prime example.

To quote Foreman, the principles of resourcism are:

1) Professionalism—Trained experts are best qualified to manage natural resources and public lands.

2) Progressivism/Optimism—Progress as a secular religion of material, informational, moral, and organizational advances is key to resourcism, as is an intensely optimistic view of the future benefits of wise management.

3) Engineering—The science behind resourcism is manipulative and controlling—not pure science, but rather technology and engineering.

4) Resources for people—Resource management by experts is to result in benefits for everyone. (In principle this standard is still touted; in practice it is corrupted in favor of those with wealth and political power.)

5) Multiple Use—Properly managed lands can produce multiple uses of timber, minerals, forage, water, wildlife, and recreation, often on the same acre.

6) Sustained Yield—Lands are to be managed for the maximum they can produce on a sustained basis without harming the future productivity of the land.

7) Utilitarianism—Resources and the land are here to be used to produce goods and services for humans.

A fair number of people who post here seem to take the principles above as given.







  1. MikeH Avatar

    I read something about Foreman recently that kind of grabbed me the wrong way. He was doing an interview with some magazine, and Foreman complained that the Bitterroot Valley was getting to be “one big subdivision”, so he moved to the Paradise Valley to get away from it……

    And I thought, “if everyone did that, wouldn’t all these places become subdivisions?”. Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy in the conservation field.

    I know Dave has done a hell of a lot, but I think we need to start acting a little more wise in our own individual lives and actions as well as using wisdom in advocating for our wildlands.

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Foreman lives in Albuquerque.

  3. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    Thanks, Alan. I didn’t think our old friend had left New Mexico!

    The next article in this series entitled “The Bedrock of the Conservation Mind,” a companion piece to the above, is also excellent. Check the Rewilding Institute web site for information on how to subscribe to Around the Campfire.

  4. MikeH Avatar

    Ahh…it was another one of the Earth First! guys then.

    I’m always amazed at how many conservationists hate subdivisions in the west, yet they move into them.

    Strange to say the least.

  5. MikeH Avatar

    Howie Wolke is who I was referring to. Apologies to Foreman. I believe they both worked on the excellent book “The Big Outside”.

  6. Alan Gregory Avatar

    And Wolke wrote an excellent misssive titled “Wilderness on the Rocks.” An top-notch read, but long out of print. I treasure a copy purchased through Foreman’s old “Books of the Big Outside” store.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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