Profile written by Courtney White, originally published in Headwaters News.

Dagget’s book “Gardeners of Eden” urges humans abandon their hands-off preservation efforts and put Nature to work.

“When author Dan Dagget gave a talk recently at the annual Bioneers Conference, near San Francisco, he began by asking audience members if they had taken care of their environmental responsibilities that day. Had any of them gone hunting in a pack? Started a grass fire? Piled rocks in a gully? Chased any bison off a cliff?

“In response, some people jumped to their feet and walked out of the auditorium.

“This didn’t surprise the former Earth First! activist. Dagget has been causing people discomfort ever since the early 1970s when he fought strip mines in his native southeastern Ohio. Over the years, he has become something of a professional provocateur, tilting at sacred windmills right and left….”


About Dan Dagget

I’m an environmentalist, and I’m a conservative. I didn’t start out that way, in fact I started out as an environmental activist, a fairly radical one. I was involved in some of the earliest actions of Earth First, was designated one of the top 100 grass roots activists by the Sierra Club, and helped put together ad hoc groups in Ohio and Arizona directed at specific issues—controlling coal surface mining in Ohio and protecting mountain lions in Arizona. I changed my “environmental politics” because I came to believe that mainstream environmentalists—the great majority of whom are liberals—are more interested in expanding the role of government than in fixing what’s wrong with the environment. Or in sustaining or enhancing what’s right. And because liberals operate by, within, and through the government to control an ever greater portion of our lives—where we get our health care, what kind of cars and food we can buy, how we dispose of our trash, raise our children, etc.—any increase in government power is an increase in their power. Liberals, in other words, measure success, environmental and otherwise, in terms of their ability to control more of the environment (and therefore of us) via government regulation. Conservatism is the home of the free market, of rewarding people for producing outcomes, not applying policies. What does that have to do with the environment? I know a rancher who has managed the habitat on his ranch to such a state of health that it hosts one of the largest known populations of an endangered bird (a flycatcher). An adjacent preserve of similar habitat hosts none. Leftist environmentalists have lobbied to remove the flycatcher habitat from the rancher’s management and increase the size of the preserve. A conservative environmentalism would reward the rancher for his success and empower him to increase the number of flycatchers even more. Does the conservative approach bring problems? Of course it does, but so does the liberal approach—just ask those flycatchers. If you’re interested in producing results rather than regulations, you’ve come to the right place.
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