Clearcuts springing up in every nook and cranny of the National Forests; high-voltage power lines marching arrogantly across desert valleys and Mid­west farms; seismograph crews scarring roadless areas with their bulldozers, thumper trucks, and explosives; survey stakes and their Day-Glo orange flagging warning of who-knows-what awful scheme; and the ubiquitous signs of overgrazing on public lands are the hallmarks of the industrial siege on the wild and open space areas of America. As Ed Abbey said, it looks like an invasion, an invasion from Mars.

As good patriots, lovers of our native land, it is our duty to resist invasion and to defend our planet. The following chapter describes some of the tools for that defense. A hammer and nails to save the forests, a pair of gloves to pull up survey stakes, a socket wrench for power towers ... and so on.

The assault on wild nature is on marginal financial ground. By making it cost even more, a few monkeywrenchers can stop the destruction in many places and slow it in others. As evidence of how effective even a few actions can be, look at the hue and cry being raised by the timber industry, their flunkies in the Forest Service, and their hired politicians over a small number of tree-spiking operations. If they multiply their efforts, wilderness defenders can save signif­icant blocks of wild country.



Tree spiking can be an extremely effective method of deterring timber sales, and seems to be growing more and more popular. Mill operators are quite wary of accepting timber that may be contaminated with hidden metal objects, ­saws are expensive, and a "spiked" log can literally bring operations to a screeching halt, at least until a new blade can be put into service. The Forest Service and timber industry are very nervous about spiking-when they or the media raise the subject of monkeywrenching, this is the form most commonly discussed. Agency and industry officials are loath, however, to raise the subject. Indeed, the Forest Service (FS) often fails to publicize incidents of spiking, on the theory that the less the practice is publicized, the less likely it is to spread. When the Freddies (FS officials) do publicly acknowledge that a spiking has occurred, they often make a considerable effort to find the perpe­trators, even to the point of offering substantial cash rewards. (No modern-day tree spiker has been caught, however.)

There are two basic philosophies of tree-spiking. Some people like to spike the base of each tree, so that the sawyer, in felling the tree, will almost cer­tainly encounter one of the spikes with the chain saw. This would at the very least require the sawyer to stop and sharpen the saw, and might require the replacement of the chain. If this happens with enough trees, the amount of "down time" caused to the sawyers would pose a serious hindrance to opera­tions. In this type of spiking, the spiker drives several nails (or non-metallic spikes, about which more later) at a downward angle into the first two or three feet above ground of each tree. The nails are spaced so that a sawyer, in felling the tree, is likely to hit at least one of them.

There is an objection to this type of spiking-the possibility, however re­mote, that the sawyer might be injured, either by the kickback of the saw striking the nail, or by the chain, should it break when striking the spike. A friend of ours who worked for many years as a logger in Colorado says that in numerous incidents of striking metal objects with his saw-including one time when the impact was great enough to cause him to swallow his chaw of to­bacco-he never once had a broken chain or was otherwise hurt. Yet the possibility is there. Because of this possibility, we do not recommend this type of spiking.

The second philosophy of tree spiking is to place the spikes in the trees well above the area where the fellers will operate-as many feet up the trunk as one can conveniently work. The object of the spiking in this case is to destroy the blades in the sawmill. Since in large mills the blades are either operated from a control booth some distance from the actual cutting, or are protected by a Plexiglas shield, this method is unlikely to cause anyone physical injury even should a blade shatter upon striking a spike, which is unlikely. It is true that in small, "backyard" sawmills the operator might be standing close to the blade, but we assume that anyone contemplating spiking would never consider doing it on other than large timber sales where the trees are destined for a corporate, rather than a small, family-operated mill. Locally owned and operated sawmills are seldom a major threat to wilderness. The major threats come from the big, multinational corporations whose "cut-and-run" philosophy devastates the land and leaves the local economy in shambles when all the big trees are cut and the main office decides to pull out and move to greener pastures.

I anticipate an objection at this point. "Wait a minute," someone says, "if the purpose of spiking trees is to save them from being cut, then what good does it do if the tree wrecks a blade in the mill? It's too late to save the tree, isn't it?" The answer is that the value of spiking is as a long-term deterrent. If enough trees in roadless areas are spiked, eventually the corporate thugs in the timber company boardrooms, along with their corrupt lackeys who wear the uniform of the Forest Service, will realize that timber sales in our few remaining wild areas will be prohibitively expensive. And since profits are the goal, they will begin to think twice before violating the wilderness.

In many cases, people have spiked timber in a threatened area, and then have sent (anonymous!) warning to the authorities. If this is done before the timber has actually been sold, the effect on competitive bidding can be con­siderable. (The Forest Service plans timber sales years in advance, but actual sale of the timber to a logging company is one of the last steps in the process.) In fact the sale may be quietly dropped. In cases where the timber has already been sold prior to spiking, the Freddies (upon receiving a warning) have sent crews into the woods to locate and remove the spikes-at substantial expense in overtime to the agency. If this happens often enough, it can not fail to re­duce the total number of timber sales substantially, particularly in this era of federal budget deficits.

We will describe here several methods of spiking trees, go into the "when" and the "where" of spiking, and deal with the sensitive matter of when and how to announce a spiking. First, though, we stress some basic security consider­ations.

Spiking trees is potentially dangerous. The Forest Service has increased its law-enforcement budget considerably in the last few years, and one reason has been the increased incidence of monkeywrenching. Another reason for in­creased law enforcement has been the stepped-up campaign by the Feds to eliminate marijuana growing from the public lands, but it should be obvious that a cop in the woods looking for dope will arrest any monkeywrenchers he or she might encounter by chance as well.

The Freddies (and other Federal land-use agencies as well) are becoming in­creasingly sophisticated in law enforcement, and it is foolish to underestimate them. According to a 1986 column by Jack Anderson, these agencies employ such tactics as surveillance (of suspicious persons), and mail interception (presumably again involving those who have for some reason attracted their suspicions). They may have agents in the woods in plain clothes, posing as hikers, campers, or fishers; and it is even possible that agents might be in the woods at night on stakeouts, equipped with night-vision devices.

If a monkeywrencher is contemplating spiking trees in a remote roadless area long in advance of a timber sale, the chances of encountering cops are relatively slim. Conversely, if a highly controversial timber sale is involved, especially one in which monkeywrenching already has been committed or at least threatened, the danger to the monkeywrencher is very real. For this rea­son alone it is preferable to spike trees preventively, rather than as a last-ditch effort to save a seemingly doomed grove.

Most veteran tree spikers agree that tree spiking should never be done alone. In addition to the person or persons who are doing the actual spiking, at least one person should have the sole duty of acting as lookout. Some experi­enced tree spikers recommend three lookouts for both spiking and silent pin­ning. At the first sign of any other people in the vicinity, spiking should cease and the team should quietly withdraw. The team should use the drop-off and pick-up method of access, and should follow all recommended precautions as to clothing, footwear, and tools (see the Security chapter).

Some experienced tree spikers, however, argue that it is best to always monkeywrench alone, even with tree spiking, so that you never have to worry about the reliability of your partner. They argue that careful reconnaissance of the area to be spiked, a planned and scouted escape route, and frequent stopping to listen make solitary tree spiking safe.

Spiking is much easier done in daylight than in the dark. A team can work much faster in full light, and in darkness it is all too easy to be sloppy and fail to cover up the signs of your activities. If a team is spiking in a remote roadless area and takes full security precautions, they can operate securely in daytime. In daylight one is more likely to encounter other humans in the woods, but al­most any activity in the woods at night, if detected, will be deemed suspicious and investigated.

Assuming that spikers are working in a remote roadless area, and are not working during the hunting season (a dangerous time to be out in the woods, since on much of the public lands the highest period of use occurs at this time), the greatest danger will be from casual encounters with Forest Service field personnel-timber markers, survey crews, and the like-who might be working in or near your area. Try to know where these crews are working at all times. If you have a source within the agency, fine, but you can more safely get this information from continued observation and from knowing your area well. Crews tend to work in the same area for weeks at a time, and often live in temporary field quarters (trailers or even tents) rather than commute every day from the District Ranger Station or Supervisor's Office. Another type of people you might encounter in the woods, especially if you are working in the area of a timber sale which has already been announced for public bidding, are repre­sentatives of logging companies who might be checking out the timber before deciding their bids. Needless to say, you do not want to fall into the hands of these people.

When to Spike Trees


A general rule on when to spike might be, "the earlier the better." If one waits until just before the timber is sold, security problems are greater, and it will be easier for the authorities to locate the spikes. If one spikes several years in advance of a sale, nature has time to disguise the work by growing completely over the spikes. Of course, if the Freddies have already marked the bound­aries of the sale area (or even the individual trees to be cut), the spiker knows exactly where to work without any guessing. Nevertheless, with proper intelli­gence monkeywrenchers can have a good idea of where future timber sales will be long before the marking stage.

The Forest Service earmarks specific timber sales five years in advance. Moreover, in their 50-year Forest Plans, the Freddies conveniently identify all of the concentrations of "commercial" timber in each National Forest-and all too often, they openly acknowledge that they intend to cut almost all of it, sooner or later. (See "Target Selection" in the Basic Security section in the Security chapter for secure means of keeping posted on what an agency is up to.) Study the data and identify areas of critical interest to you that appear to be threatened. With plenty of advance warning, you can act deliberately and precisely.

Since activists may be unable to attend to all timber sales well in advance, much monkeywrenching will occur at the last possible minute; so it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of timber marking practices. Unfortunately, there is no uniform system, and practices may change from time to time. Timber mark­ers generally use spray paint, although sometimes flagging (or flagging and paint) is used to mark the boundaries of the area (the "unit") within which cut­ting will take place. One color will be used to mark the perimeter, while another color will be used to mark individual trees to be cut within the unit. In a clearcut, only the perimeter is marked, since everything within is to be re­moved. A given timber sale will usually have several units within it, and they may be widely scattered or close together. You may see numbers painted on some of the trees-these are the unit numbers. At the present time in the Northern Rockies-the region with the most roadless areas threatened by the FS-the Freddies are using red or orange paint to mark unit boundaries, and yellow or blue paint to mark the trees within the units which are to be cut. Trees to be cut are sometimes marked with an "X," although sometimes only a hori­zontal slash of paint is used. But beware-in timber sales in which most but not all of the trees are to be cut, the trees which are to be left may be painted. Because of the many differences in marking practices, you should know the system being used in your area.

National Forests list timber sales years in advance. Some even indicate if they are in roadless areas and which roadless areas. The safest and most ef­fective tree spiking is done in proposed timber sales years in advance. Spik­ing ideally should occur before any road building or even surveying is under way. Such advance spiking should be announced to prospective timber buy­ers and the Forest Service, but not the media. The presence of spiked trees in timber sale areas will reduce the commercial value of such sales and turn off potential bidders. The cost of identifying and removing spikes may make the sale so expensive that even the Forest Service-which habitually sells timber at a loss to US taxpayers-will drop it.

Spiking trees many years ahead of their scheduled sale has several advan­tages_ Little money has been invested in surveying, road building, preparing environmental assessments, and the like; so the authorities have less incen­tive to go ahead with a timber sale. It's more difficult for the Freddies to locate spiked trees years after spiking, and without easy road access they are less likely to search for spikes. Timber buyers have not committed resources to the area and it may be easier for them to simply not bid on a risky, possibly ex­pensive proposition. Also the monkeywrencher's chances of being encoun­tered are slim. The advantage of advising only the agency and prospective timber buyers and not the general media, is that there will be no public loss of face if the sale is quietly dropped or left without a bid because of the spiking. In some cases, spiked timber has been sold and cut at a considerable financial loss to both the Forest Service and the logging company so that they do not to appear to be intimidated by a widely publicized tree spiking.


Basic Spiking Techniques


Basic spiking requires a large hammer and large nails. It is difficult to drive large nails into a tree with an ordinary carpenter's hammer. The best type of hammer to use is one of the "single-jack" variety (a one-handed sledgeham­mer) with a head weighing 2-1/2 or 3 pounds. Nails should be large, but not ex­tremely large; the larger the nails, the more time and energy are required to drive them. A 60 penny (60d) nail is a good size. This is about 6-1/4 inches long and is the largest "common" nail readily available in most building supply stores. Larger nails (called spikes) are sold by their size in inches. Spikes should not be needed in most cases, although they are useful for extremely large trees.

Another tool should probably be added to the basic spiking kit: a small pair of bolt cutters, powerful enough to cut the heads off the nails. The reason to add this tool is that in several cases, the Freddies have sent crews into the woods to locate (with metal detectors) and remove (with crowbars) as many spikes as possible. Cutting the heads off the nails (after driving them nearly all the way into the tree) should make the Freddies' task all the more fun. Drive the nail almost all the way into the tree. Cut the head off with the bolt cutters. Then, drive the now-headless nail the remainder of the way into the tree. Remem­ber, the more time and money the Freddies expend removing spikes, the fewer trees will be cut and the more wilderness saved. We cannot overestimate the value of removing the heads from the nails. We have heard of at least one case in which the Forest Service has located trees with spikes so treated­ and has been unable to remove the nails. Although the Freddies publicly an­nounced that they had removed all the spikes, the sale was quietly scuttled.

Since the more trees spiked, the greater the deterrent factor, one nail per tree ought to suffice. To deter a major timber sale, the spiking of several hundred trees might be a worthy goal, but even a few dozen spiked trees will be of some deterrent value. It might be noted that on Meares Island in British Columbia, opponents of logging, working systematically and in teams, have spiked literally thousands of trees to great effect. But spiking does not have to be on this scale to be effective.

Trees should be spiked at various heights above the ground. While it is ac­ceptable to drive some of the nails in at the height of a standing person-the most convenient place-an effort ought to be made to place them higher. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, nails placed above head height will be more difficult for investigators to spot, and second, if all the nails are driven in at the same height, the searchers' task will be easier. There are a number of ways to place nails high. Climbing spikes (metal spurs which attach to boots, used in conjunction with a waist belt) work well. Climbing spikes are fairly expensive when purchased from forestry supply houses, but it may be possible to locate an old pair (they are used by smoke jumpers and others in forestry work) or to improvise a pair. Or, a spiker can fabricate a light, portable ladder which can be carried from tree to tree. Another method would be for the spiker to stand on a partner's shoulders while driving the nails. Climbing tree stands, used by archery hunters, are easily carried, quiet, and allow you to climb a tree fairly quickly. The good ones will not harm the tree or leave marks. (Practice first! Inexperienced users have been injured when their tree stands collapsed under them.) In regions that get considerable snowfall, a good solu­tion would be to spike in the winter, using skis or snowshoes when several feet of snow cover the ground.

Some effort should be made to cover the signs of the work in a spiking oper­ation. Again, the ideal spiking would take place several years before a timber sale, giving nature a chance to hide the evidence by growing over the nails.

However, in many cases a spiker will not be able to do the job far enough in advance for bark to grow over the nails. In such cases, after driving the nail in flush, the head of the nail should be covered so as to camouflage all signs of the work. A piece of bark fixed with glue, liquid wood, or cement over the nail is best, but pitch might be used, or in a pinch, paint the color of the bark. A brown felt marker can also be used to disguise the shiny head of the nail after it is driven into the tree.

-Bill Haywood


* For large old-growth trees, "bridge timber spikes" (about one foot long) can be particularly effective. These spikes cost about 70 cents each and require a stout arm to drive. A heavy hammer (small sledge) that can be gripped with both hands may be the best tool. Building supply stores sometimes have these large spikes in bins with the rest of the nails.

• A hand-operated bit and brace can be used to drill holes into trees for inser­tion of "super spikes." After drilling the hole, a section of sharpened rebar can be driven into the tree. Be sure to cover the hole with bark (liquid wood or some other adhesive can be used to secure the bark). This method of spiking is very labor-intensive, but it shouldn't take many such spikes to deter cutting.

• Field experience in using 60d spikes in pine, fir, and spruce shows that they can be de-headed prior to driving them. This eliminates the necessity of carrying bolt cutters in the field. Always bring a punch to drive the de-headed nails below the surface of the tree. This makes removal nearly impossible.

• To avoid leaving telltale nail heads around a spiking site, glue a plastic magnet on the top jaw of your bolt cutters. This way, the heads can be col­lected when cutting off the heads of nails in trees.

• The distinctive marks left by your particular bolt cutters will be destroyed by pounding in the spikes. The marks on the jaws of the bolt cutters can be re­moved by simply filing the jaws. Such distinctive marks could constitute evi­dence if you were charged with the crime.

  When using bolt cutters to de-head spikes, always wear goggles or other eye protection. The heads of the nails can really fly.

    • Most large (8" to 12") spikes are either 5/16 or 3/8-inch in diameter. Choose bolt cutters with a slightly larger capacity than your spikes, i.e., one ­half-inch or larger. (Spike metal falls into the "soft" or "medium" category on the "capacity chart," which is a small metal tag affixed to each set of bolt cut­ters.) Cutters with greater capacity cut easier and faster and last longer.

    The type of tree may dictate the size of your spikes and whether or not you de-head them before driving. Pines and cedars are relatively soft, allowing even de-headed 60d nails to be driven in without bending (a de-headed 60d nail would likely bend in harder wood). Douglas-fir is a bit harder; spikes smaller than 5/16-inch diameter should not be de-headed prior to driving. Old-growth hemlock is extremely hard. Experiment with the various tree species in your area.

Some field reports indicate that with large spikes (60d or larger) it is possi­ble to employ the following method: (1) Drive the spike half-way into the tree. (2) Cut off the portion of the spike protruding from the tree, using bolt cutters or a hacksaw. (3) Using the loose portion of the nail as if it were a center punch, drive the imbedded part of the nail as far into the tree as it will go. (4) Remove your "center punch," caulk the hole, and disguise it.

  Avoid imported (Korean, Taiwanese, etc.) spikes; buy US or Canadian brands. Cheap imports may be softer and bend easier when driving.

In spiking a large timber sale, concentrate on the part of the sale closest to the main road as this will tend to dissuade the contractor from cutting the rest of the sale. (The Forest Service has allowed some logging firms to cancel the timber sale contract after encountering spiked trees.)

For extra effect, combine large and small nails. Use only one large spike per tree, but pound in several smaller nails as well. This is a good job for a partner who cannot drive in large spikes, and it further protects the tree. The metal detector can't tell the difference between large and small spikes.

  A military surplus green canvas ammo bag is perfect for transporting spikes in the woods.

You can use a fanny pack to carry your spikes. The weight is easier to carry on the hips than on the back. During the actual spiking, put the fanny pack in front to use like a carpenter's apron.

For a major spiking operation, you may wish to stash a box of spikes in the woods in the summer (when access is easier), and then ski in during the winter and do the spiking. Be sure to hide the spikes where you can find them even if they are buried under several feet of snow.

Do not lubricate spikes for easy driving. Most lubricants are petroleum derivatives, all of which are poisonous to trees. Vegetable oils are nearly as toxic. They have the added disadvantage of attracting decomposers (bugs and fungi) as they go rancid. The bottom line is that nothing belongs in a tree except wood.

Some concerned folks have recommended that spikes be sterilized in rub­bing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. But medical advisers argue that rubbing al­cohol or hydrogen peroxide would be more harmful to the tree than anything on relatively clean spikes.

In addition to the security reasons for wearing gloves, they will protect your hands. A hard day of pounding spikes can blister the hands of the toughest. Besides being painful, blisters might be considered evidence against someone suspected of spiking.

* Some experienced tree spikers suggest that notification of spiking is best done by issuing a blanket warning after marking a few trees for demonstration purposes (with a spray painted white "S"), and spiking every tree in the poten­tial logging area.

* Tree spiking is noisy. Some spikers suggest drilling a hole to accommo­date the spike-thus reducing the amount of noisy hammering. The problem with this is that it severely limits the number of trees that can be spiked in a given amount of time.

Here in the Northwest, security is a major concern. What I've found to work well is spiking in the rain. (You get soaked, but you don't leave tracks!) Rain drastically reduces the noise produced by hammering. Rain also seems to keep the Freddies indoors.

I also write my communiqués in the winter, after the snows have come. It an­noys the hell out of the loggers when they know they can't look for your work until late spring.

One last suggestion: Since metal detectors are the rage of late, I also pound in scores of small standard-type nails. They may not stop a saw blade but they will frustrate the piss out of the guy or gal with the detector. It also helps to camouflage where I put the real spikes.

-Banana Slug

* An amusing sidelight on tree spiking is that the Inyo National Forest has spiked snags with 14 to 16 penny nails to "armor" them against wood cutters. The Forest Service is protecting the snags for wildlife habitat.

Advanced Tree Spiking Techniques

Helix (spiral) nails are the ultimate in metal spikes-these are the type of nails that were used in large quantities on Meares Island. The spiral makes the nail extremely difficult to remove, and removal is virtually impossible when the head of the nail is clipped off. These nails come in three sizes suitable for tree spiking: 8", 10", and 12" long. While the 8" size is adequate for most jobs, the 10" and 12" sizes can be driven even when the head has been removed in ad­vance-a great advantage. Driving these spikes is not easy. You will need to be in shape. You may want to use a heavier hammer. A flat-faced, 3 pound sledge with a long handle (18") is ideal for driving large helix spikes.

You may have to look around to find helix spikes; not all building supply stores carry them. They are expensive, but much less so if bought by the box. Call around (use a pay phone) to check on availability and price (prices may vary widely). If you need an excuse for buying them, say you are building a bridge to a piece of remote property owned by your uncle. Use the same pre­cautions to protect your identity in buying helix nails that you would use with any unusual item-never buy such nails in your own community (unless it is a large city), never go back to the same store twice, and never leave such things lying around your house or car.

Good quality, US-made 20"-24" bolt cutters (cost about $80) are adequate for 60d spikes or helix spikes 8" and smaller. You can easily carry this size bolt cutters in the woods to de-head your spikes after you drive them most of the way into the tree. You can then drive them in the rest of the way without their heads.

For 10" and larger helix spikes, 30"-36" bolt cutters are necessary. De-head these spikes at home (large bolt-cutters are cumbersome and heavy to carry in the woods). These larger spikes can be easily driven in without their heads. You may prefer to rent one of these larger bolt cutters for a day or two and de­head an entire box of spikes at home. If you do rent one (to save the cost of purchase), do not leave your ID as security. Instead, leave a cash deposit ($150 generally required) which will be refunded when you return the bolt cut­ters.

- Jeanne Carr


Various exotic methods have been suggested for putting spikes into trees, ranging from crossbows to muzzle-loaders to shotguns to spear guns. None of these seem to be worth the trouble, according to serious tree spikers who have tried them. Stick to the basics. Similarly, suggestions have been made that shooting bullets into trees would have the same effect as spiking. We discour­age this for several reasons: the hydrostatic shock to the surrounding tissue in the tree from a bullet; the possibility of poisoning the tree if copper-jacketed ammo is used; the unlikelihood of bullets in trees being effective saw-dulling agents; the increased legal risk that comes from using firearms; and the secu­rity problem of noise from firearms. Previous suggestions for using nail guns ("power-actuated fastening systems") are also now rejected due to noise, inef­fectiveness, and greater complexity.

Resistance to logging should not be restricted to tree spiking. Many of the other techniques described in Ecodefense can be effective against logging. One other tactic is to cut the cable used in skidding logs through steep terrain. At night the cables are slack. Tape the cable before hacksawing and use ca­ble clamps to secure the cut end to a nearby tree.

Keep in mind that metal detectors are not very reliable. After the extensive and intensive spiking of old-growth cedar on Meares Island in British Columbia, MacMillan Bloedel timber company had poor success in locating tree spikes.

Most experienced tree spikers argue for keeping tree spiking simple: good old-fashioned plain steel 6 inch spiral spikes driven in with a regular hammer and countersunk one inch below the bark with an industrial punch. More elabo­rate techniques involve heavier equipment, greater expense, more time. Sim­ple spiking is easier and faster.

"Traditional" spiking, as described above, is relatively simple and quite ef­fective. However, the serious eco-raider might do well to consider some of the alternative methods described by T. O. Hellenbach later in this chapter. These methods require more specialized equipment, and are therefore more costly to the spiker, but they offer distinct advantages, both in security and effective­ness.


Spiking Security

--  Watch for maintenance crews working at night.

-- Resist the temptation to use your spiking nails around the house. Exami­nation of spikes can determine their manufacturer, and it's best not to have similar nails where you live.

- In places where spiking is rampant, the authorities may go so far as to "dust" trees with dyes in powder form. These powders are almost invisible to the naked eye, but will show up under an ultraviolet or "black" light. To avoid exposing oneself in such a situation, minimize contact with the tree (you need not hug it!), put your gloves in a plastic bag when you are done (if you're not disposing of them immediately), and launder your clothes after you get home. You might also purchase an ultraviolet light (available from scientific supply houses, novelty and "head" shops). In this age of budgetary restraints, how­ever, the Freddies are not likely to go to this extreme except in special cases.

- Be cautious when buying large quantities of nails. Although nails are com­mon items and their possession (in the absence of other evidence) would con­stitute only the barest of circumstantial evidence, it would be wise never to buy them where you are known or might be remembered.

- Be careful about leaving fingerprints on spikes. After purchasing them, carefully wipe them clean and place them in a cloth bag or wrap them up to be carried in your pack for field use. Wear gloves while spiking trees (see below) and do not touch the spikes unless your hands are gloved.

Federal Anti-Spiking Legislation

The so-called "Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988" (Public Law 100-690, 100th Congress) became law in November 1988, amid great media hoopla. This docu­ment is well worth perusing despite its 350 pages. In addition to containing a number of provisions which seem to sacrifice some of the most basic civil liber­ties for the "war on drugs," PL 100-690 also contains clauses, added as "riders" to the original legislation, that haven't the remotest connection with fighting drugs.

One of these added provisions is of interest to monkeywrenchers, for it specifically targets tree spikers who operate on the public lands. This subsec­tion is entitled "Hazardous or Injurious Devices on Federal Lands," and amends existing law (Chapter 91 of Title 18, US Code). Rather than attempt to para­phrase the wording of this section, I'll quote verbatim from some of the most in­teresting passages:

Whoever - (1) with the intent to violate the Controlled Substances Act, 2) with the intent to obstruct or harass the harvesting of timber, or (3) with reck­less disregard to the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury ... uses a hazardous or injurious device on Federal land, or on an Indian Reservation ... shall be punished under subsection (b).

Subsection (b) spells out the penalties:

(1) If death of an individual results, [the person convicted] shall be fined un­der this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both; (2) if serious bodily injury to any individual results, be fined ... or imprisoned for not more than twenty years, or both; (3) if bodily injury to any individual results, be fined ... or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; (4) if damage exceeding $10, 000 to the property of any individual results, be fined ... or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both; and (5) in any other case, be fined ... or im­prisoned for not more than one year.

The law goes on to specify that if anyone is convicted under this subsection a second time, the minimum penalty shall be imprisonment for up to ten years, regardless of the magnitude of the offense. The law also spells out the differ­ence between "serious bodily injury" and "bodily injury"; the latter can be as simple as "a cut, abrasion, bruise. .." There are detailed descriptions of what constitutes a "hazardous or injurious" device. After describing the usual "guns attached to trip wires" and "explosive devices" that we've all read about in Reader's Digest "drug menace" articles, the law gets into some specifics obvi­ously aimed at monkeywrenchers rather than pot growers: singled out are "sharpened stakes," "nails placed so that the sharpened ends are positioned in an upright manner," and "tree spiking devices including spikes, nails, or other objects hammered, driven, fastened, or otherwise placed into or on any timber, whether or not severed from the stump.

The well-read monkeywrencher will notice that the "hazardous or injurious devices" described in this law could describe road spiking devices as well as tree spikes.

Some other provisions of this law are also of interest to monkeywrenchers. Both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service (NPS) are getting funds to beef up their law enforcement presence (to combat drugs, of course) and the Forest Service is to double the number of their new drug cops, from 500 to 1000! These drug cops have already been employed to counter protesting conservationists in the woods (including those practicing non-violent civil disobedience), and they can be expected to continue doing this. Anyone contemplating any variety of monkeywrenching should be aware of this increased law enforcement presence on the public lands. The "Anti­Drug Act" also gives Forest Service law enforcement officers authority to con­duct investigations on non-government lands, assuming that those investiga­tions are of crimes that took place on Federal lands. This opens the door to the possibility that Freddie cops might conduct surveillance or investigate sus­pected monkeywrenchers in or around the activists' homes or places of em­ployment, or anywhere else for that matter.

The swift passage of anti-spiking legislation is an indication of how effective spiking has become in deterring timber sales. After several years of the Fred­dies and their friends in the timber industry dismissing spiking as a trivial mat­ter, we have seen in some parts of the country a media blitz during the last couple of years portraying a veritable epidemic of spiking. Since even before the passage of the recent law adequate legislation (albeit not as specific) ex­isted under which anyone caught spiking could have been (and certainly would have been) prosecuted, one might say that the current legislative effort to single out spiking is at least in part propaganda to assure the media and timber industry that the government is acting vigilantly to counter the growing wave of monkeywrenching.

This is not to trivialize the import of the new law. The Forest Service in par­ticular has begun to feel the pressure caused by monkeywrenchers, and they see that if current trends continue, their "business as usual" policy won't be tenable much longer. They no doubt see the new law as a tool with which to turn back the clock to those happy days of a decade ago when almost no one seriously challenged their policies. In order to turn back that clock, they will try hard to catch wrenchers in the act, and to impose the maximum penalty on them. Unfortunately for the Forest Service, it is too late to go back to the days when there was no organized dissent. Too many people realize that the Forest Service's lip service to "public input in the forest planning process" and all their pious words about "working within the system" are just that-words. Some of those people are so angry after "working within the system" for years without seeing that system budge, meanwhile watching the plunder of the planet con­tinue unchecked, that they are ready to break the law, even at the risk of their lives and liberty, to try to stop that plunder.

A case in point is this: In October 1987, the State of California passed two laws (Senate Bill 1176 and Assembly Bill 952) aimed at deterring tree spikers, even though a law on the books since the 1870s already made spiking a felony. The first of these laws provides graduated penalties for anyone con­victed of tree spiking. For "simple spiking" the penalty is up to three years im­prisonment. For a spiking that results in bodily injury to someone, the penalty is up to six years in prison. For a spiking causing "great bodily injury" to some­one, the penalty is up to nine years imprisonment. The second law makes it a misdemeanor "to possess a spike with the intent to spike a tree." The passage of these laws was widely reported in the California press at the time. Yet if newspaper articles are any indication, several spikings occurred in the state during 1988, despite the new legislation.

In part, the California laws were passed due to widespread publicity following the incident earlier in 1987 at the Cloverdale, California, sawmill in which a sawyer was seriously injured when a saw in the mill came into contact with a log containing a metal spike. That spiking was apparently not environmentally motivated, but no matter. Radical environmentalists were widely blamed for causing the injury to the millworker. This underscores something repeatedly stressed in both Ecodefense and in the old Ned Ludd column of the Earth First! Journal in the 1980s, namely, that monkeywrenching should be aimed at ma­chines, not people, and that the purpose of spiking is to save trees. Every time a tree goes to a mill-spiked or not-that tree has been lost. Anyone spiking trees has a moral obligation to notify the "proper authorities" that a par­ticular area contains spiked trees and that it would be hazardous to cut those trees. This should be done with all due concern for the monkeywrencher's se­curity, but it should be done before those trees are scheduled to be cut.

If the government does succeed in slowing down the wave of spiking (and this is dubious, given the method's obvious effectiveness) it will succeed only because monkeywrenchers have switched to other tactics, equally damaging to the industrial state but perhaps not as widely anticipated as spiking. Right now, the Forest Service is watching especially for spikers; a major arrest would boost the morale in the corporate boardrooms of LP, MAXXAM, and their ilk. This means that spikers should be extremely vigilant, but it also might provide the opportunity for monkeywrenchers to strike other, more vulnerable targets as well. Going after logging equipment, for instance, causes more immediate financial losses to the industry than spiking. The monkeywrencher should be aware, however, that with all those extra Freddie cops in the woods, seemingly unguarded equipment just might be staked out. Still, there are loads of other possibilities and some of them do not require any incriminating specialized equipment. Systematic plugging of culverts, to cite one example, hasn't been employed nearly as much as it deserves to be. Done on a large enough scale, it could do millions of dollars damage to the bloated system of logging roads in the National Forests.

We should take heart from the passage of draconian laws; this means we are actually having some effect on the industrial state. We should also be flexible, and able to adapt to changing circumstances. It is almost a cliché that gener­als are forever fighting wars using the tactics of the previous war. Generals can afford to do this, since it is the common soldier, not the general, who pays the penalty. Monkeywrenchers are in the front ranks, and can't afford to get careless. Keep on fighting, but be careful!

-Smokey Bear


* British Columbia recently established tree spiking as a major crime. Penal­ties are six months and $2,000 for spiking; three years and $10,000 fine if physical injury or property damage occurs for spiking any tree, whether living, dead, standing, fallen, limbed, bucked, or peeled. It is also an offense to aid, abet, or counsel another to spike timber; to carry spikes or other potentially hazardous objects with the intent to spike timber: six months and $2,000. (Of course, no one involved with the publication or distribution of Ecodefense abets, aids, or counsels anyone to spike timber.)


The Art of Silent Spiking

Just as spiking is named for the spike-like quality of the fifty and sixty­penny nails used, so "pinning" is named for a lowly steel pin which, buried in the tissue of a living tree, is designed to wreak havoc with the butchering blade of the sawmill. As levels of protective security increase to stem the swelling tide of tree spiking, silent new methods will become necessary for those coura­geous enough to infiltrate the guarded stands of condemned trees. The loud ring of hammer on spike is replaced by the gentle hum of the cordless electric drill as it creates a small cavity for the insertion of a steel pin.


Because the basic equipment for tree pinning is more expensive than that required for spiking, it is wise to "shop by phone" and get the best price possi­ble. Drill prices, for example, can vary as much as $50 from one store to the next.

DRILLS - Many models and types of cordless electric drills are currently available, but the best, in terms of torque and price, are probably those manu­factured by Black & Decker. Their basic model 9020 sells for $25 to $40. Its slow speed and limited battery storage capacity allows for drilling only 15 to 25 holes, depending on the toughness of the wood; but, you can buy three or four of this model for the price you'll pay for the vastly superior model 1940 ($80 to $100). The model 1940 will drill twice as many holes as the 9020, and will do so more quickly due to its higher Rpms. It also has a detachable power pack that allows you to plug in a fresh set of batteries. The battery packs range in price from $25 to $50, but you may have to check with a considerable number of re­tailers to find one who stocks them on the shelf. Do not order them from the manufacturer unless you can have them shipped to a trusted friend who lives far away. Also, never return the warranty registration card to the manufacturer since this creates a paper trail which could be of great assistance to Officer Dogooder and his trusty bloodhounds.

Finally, read the instructions that come with your drill and follow them to the letter. This is your best insurance against equipment failure.

DRILL BITS - Use only high speed "twist" drill bits of a type normally used to drill through metal. The flutes and grooves in this type of bit (unlike the wood bit) force the sawdust debris out of the hole. On the first try, a twist bit can drill a 4 to 4-1/2 inch deep hole. A second effort in the same hole (after clearing out the sawdust) can double this depth. Usually, however, it is not necessary to drill in more than 4 inches past the bark to accommodate a pin of up to 3 inches.

APRON - A simple cloth apron makes a handy pin holder. It also allows you to wipe your gloves clean (of silicon-more on this later).

PINS - At a welder's supply, buy one-quarter inch steel welding rod. It comes in thirty-six inch lengths, two rods per pound, at $1 to $1.50 a pound. For the sake of variety on different jobs, occasionally substitute either the threaded or zinc-coated steel rod found in the hardware section of most lumber yards. Keep in mind, however, that zinc plating almost doubles a steel object's detectability to a metal detector. Do not use zinc-coated rods where this would be a problem.

Use a hacksaw to cut the steel rods into three and four inch lengths. This al­lows you to fit the pin to different hole depths.

SAFETY GLASSES - Buy and wear simple plastic safety glasses that do not block your side vision.

RAGS - Always have plenty of clean rags available to keep your equipment wiped free of fingerprints.

CAULK - Buy a standard caulk gun and tubes of clear silicon caulk (like GE's Silicon II). This keeps it quick, clean, and cheap. Pinning

Pinning is best accomplished by a two-person team using the following five steps:

1) Drill a hole at a slight downward angle in the tree. Your drill bit should be slightly larger in diameter than your steel pins.

2) Use the caulk gun to squeeze clear silicon into the hole.

3) Insert the steel pin. If the hole is more than 4 inches deep, use a 4 inch pin. If the wood in a particular spot is too tough, don't force it. Use a 3 or even 2 inch pin in a shallower hole. Use another piece of steel rod, from 6 to 12 inches long, to push the pin to the bottom of the hole. Glue the pin in place with the silicon (otherwise a powerful magnet could pull it out).

4) Place another dab of clear silicon at the mouth of the hole. This seals the hole against invasion by bugs or disease.

5) Camouflage the opening with a chip of bark stuck onto the silicon. Targets

Because of the relative silence of this technique, it can be used in sections of timber slated for immediate felling. You should not limit yourself to standing trees, however. Effective monkeywrenching involves examining every step in the processing of old-growth timber, from mountainside to mill door. Since metal detectors are often used to locate nails, old fence wire, and other scrap metal in logs before milling, observe this process from a safe distance to see if you can infiltrate the work area at night and insert your pins after the metal de­tection phase. If even greater silence is necessary, switch to a brace and bit (a crank-like hand drill available at all hardware stores). This entails more manual labor, but you don't need to pin fifty logs. Six to a dozen will do quite well. Make sure you remove any telltale shavings or sawdust that can reveal your activities.

- T.O. Hellenbach


Jam a branch in a drilled hole after it is pinned. When the tree is debarked in the mill, it will not appear as suspicious as a plastic-filled hole would, and will merely appear to be a knot.

Normal drill bits are too short for old-growth trees. Use long ones.

* Devise a system for keeping track of your tools in the dark-a fanny pack or a tool belt with holsters.

Instead of using a drill larger than the pin, try using one the same size and then driving the pin in. Driving the pin into a drilled hole requires much less force and noise than hammering into undrilled wood and still eliminates the need for caulking if you plug the hole with a wood dowel the same size as the pin and cut it off flush.


Other Pinning Techniques

Included here are three short articles detailing other monkeywrenchers' re­finements on the original tree pinning technique.


At least two kinds of steel pins available are two or three times more resis­tant to saw blades than is welding rod. They are Drill Rod and Dowel Pins.

1) DRILL ROD. Most major steel companies sell this product (see your Yel­low Pages under Metals). It's round and comes in all the common drill diame­ters (one of its uses is as drill bits). It comes in three foot lengths and can be easily hacksawed into desired lengths. It possesses about the same soft me­chanical characteristics as spikes and rebar-UNTIL HEAT TREATED. It then acquires the strength of the jaws of the bolt cutters that can be used to trim the heads off spikes!

Heat treating is not difficult. The best grade of drill rod steel to use is the wa­ter hardening variety designated grade W-1. Hardening requires only a propane torch, a cheap pair of needle-nosed pliers, and a container with at least 2 gallons of warm water. Cut a 7 inch length of drill rod. Hold one end with the pliers and heat the rod by playing the torch evenly up and down the pin. Soon it will begin to glow black-red. Continue heating until the pin glows cherry­red. Then drop (quench) it in the container of warm water. DON'T OVERHEAT THE PIN. After cherry-red, overheating begets red-orange, orange, orange-­white, and white hot. Stop at cherry-red. You get but one chance and if you blow it, you can't go back and start again because the metal goes through an irreversible phase change. If in doubt, check the finished pin with a file. Prop­erly heated pins will be harder than good files.

When the pin has cooled, remove it from the water and wipe it dry. Be careful not to drop it. It is harder than Japanese trigonometry but as fragile as an ici­cle. It lacks toughness. Toughness is achieved through a process called tempering. Place the pin in your kitchen oven and bake (temper) for an hour at 525°F immediately after quenching. More than one pin can be tempered at a time.

Now you have a super pin.

A simpler alternative is:

2) DOWEL PINS. These are used for aligning hunks of machinery, like the two halves of a Volkswagen engine. Dowel pins are sold in the common frac­tional diameters (see your Yellow Pages under Fasteners). Maximum_ lengths vary with the diameter. For example, 3/16 inch pins run to 2 inches long, 1 /4 inch to 2 1/2 inches, and 5/16 to 3 inches long.

These pins have been heat treated so that their interiors are very hard and their outer surfaces are super hard. For a given diameter, the shear strength of dowel pins is over three times that of rebar or welding rod.

Soft, stainless steel dowel pins are sold as well as a heat treated variety of stainless. Skip the stainless products. Insist on common alloy steel dowels. They're the strongest and the least expensive.

Because drill rod and dowels are much stronger than other steel pins, they are effective tree spikes in smaller diameters. Therefore drilling holes for them requires less effort. Hand drilling holes for these pins can be done with an old-fashioned bit and brace. Twelve and eighteen inch long drill bits are available and "lean-against" braces make drilling easier. AND DRILLING BY HAND IS SILENT!

Placing pins deep in the tree by drilling farther into it is best. More expensive metal detectors are required to find deeply implanted pins, and the deeper the pin, the more difficult it is to remove it.

When using high strength pins instead of rebar or spikes, it's the cross-sec­tional area that matters, not the diameter. Pins 3/16 inch in diameter are suffi­cient.

-Henry Bessemer


The government had the foresight to train me in demolitions and sabotage and it still dominates my thinking. After studying the tree problem we have come up with what we think is a sure fire way to neutralize the cutters. This method is an improvement over the already good tree spiking procedure in ear­lier editions of Ecodefense.

Wholesale tool companies (check the Yellow Pages for a major city) sell cordless electric drills' with removable nicad battery pacs. These are the heavy industrial models made by Mankita and the like, not the cheap little things sold in Wal-Mart. Replacement battery pacs and chargers are available, and this is important. Tool companies also sell "aircraft extension bits," which are very long drill bits, in lengths up to 18 inches.

Get some lengths of oil hardening tool steel rod (drill rod) of at least 1 /4 inch diameter. This is soft annealed steel that is usually worked into shape then made hard by heat treating. Cut the rod up into three to six inch pieces with a metal cutting band saw (or have it done in a machine shop). Have the short lengths of rod heat treated by a company that does that and tell them to draw the rod lengths back to Rockwell 49-50. This gives them a spring temper which is hard yet flexible.

Drill holes in trees, higher than eye level, with an extension bit 1/32 or 1/16 inch larger in diameter than the steel rod and slanting slightly downwards. The rods can then be inserted into the hole with adhesive and the hole filled with wood putty or ideally a plug of the same wood of which the tree is composed. A piece of bark glued over the hole will totally obscure the defect. The spare recharged battery pacs will allow an operator to drill quite a few holes, and probably work all night. The drills are fairly quiet, but I recommend silencing them with foam covers.

The best plan would be to inoculate as many trees as possible in a random pattern in any one section, concentrating on the areas of current cutting so they will run into a densely pinned area fairly quickly. Just in case sophisticated metal detectors can pick up the metal pins, load ceramic rods in a few holes or even tungsten carbide rods which are expensive but non-magnetic.

After giving the stand its shots, inform the processor's insurance company of what was done and why. If no insurance company will cover them, they won't cut.

If you can afford it, carbide rod is best because it is non-magnetic and abso­lutely no saw will get through it. Remember to buy carbide rod to length, since you can't cut it without a special diamond wheel (you might check with a lap­idary supply house for this kind of diamond wheel).

Of course, observe all security precautions when ordering material-espe­cially by mail.

-Allen Dulles



The increment borer is a tool that almost every forester carries and uses on occasion. It is used to bore into the trunk of a tree in order to extract a core. (The core can tell a forester such things as the age and health of the tree.) The tools, made from Swedish steel, are anywhere from 4" to 30" long and come in three bore sizes (4, 5, and 12 mm). The 16 inch length retails for about $100 in the Ben Meadows Catalogue. Other forestry supply outfits also sell them. (Try Forestry Suppliers, Inc., POB 8397, Jackson, MS 39204-0397.)

Unlike spike and hammer, the increment borer is quiet, and bores a 1/4" to 5/16" hole which will take 6" of 1/4" round file. A round, or rat-tail file, makes an excellent pin-one far more resistant to a saw than a spike. Part of the core can be returned to cover the hole. The hole seals itself with pitch in a short time.

The borer and file, unlike a hammer and spikes, would be expected in the forest or on a timber sale area, especially if you are wearing an old Filson cruiser's jacket and carrying a cruiser's ax.

Proper use of an increment borer takes a little practice. While it can be ro­tated, it must never be bent, or it will splinter. Further, it is best to remove it im­mediately after the core has been extracted. Otherwise, the tree seems to set up on it after a while, making extraction difficult. If, in boring a tree, you inad­vertently run into rot in the butt, it may be necessary to pull back with all your weight, while rotating the instrument in order to re-engage the threads in sound wood.

Of course, in case questioned, it pays to bone up on some forestry terms: mean annual increment, rings per inch, low site, high site, standard deviation, etc.

Yes, $100 is a lot of money for an individual to spend, but the reduction in court costs might make it worthwhile.

-Vecchio Silva


* Borer tools can be ordered from International Reforestation, Eugene, OR. 1-800-321-1037. 8" borers are $83.00 (plus postage); 10" borers are $97.50; 12" borers are $105. (Be extremely security-conscious when ordering by mail!)

A couple of things should be remembered when using borers: 1) To avoid getting it stuck in the tree, never leave the tool in the tree longer than abso­lutely necessary; 2) When removing the core, never force the spoon in or out if the core appears to be stuck. If you do, you may tweak the spoon out of shape, ruining it. Instead, repeat the release procedure. If the spoon won't come out with the borer in the tree, back the borer all the way out before remov­ing the core.


Foiling the Detectors: Non-Metallic Tree Spikes

Tree spiking has forced the development of a number of countermeasures, the most significant being the use of metal detectors to locate metallic spikes embedded in tree trunks. Many sawmills routinely screen all fallen logs at the mill to remove commonplace metallic objects like nails and old barbed wire. There is an increasing likelihood that conventional metal spikes will be de­tected before reaching their intended target-the costly sawmill blade. Edi­tor's note: This does not mean that metallic spikes are no longer useful-the reaction to their use thus far indicates that they are having an impact. But non-metallic spikes have obvious advantages.

Ongoing research has produced several non-metallic spikes, or pins, that promise to defeat the metal detector and wreak havoc inside the sawmill. The first of these is a high-fired ceramic pin made of the same type of stoneware used by potters who hand-throw (on a potter's wheel) cups, bowls, plates, etc. The primary ingredient is stoneware clay, produced in a wide range of formula­tions by clay companies and ceramic supply outfits. Most such manufacturers and suppliers are located in large metropolitan areas where monkeywrenchers can purchase their clay over the counter for cash-leaving no paper trail, like name and address, for the police investigator. The clay usually comes in twenty-five pound bags, two such bags making up a fifty-pound box. Be sure that the clay type (known as the "clay body") that you purchase contains no iron oxide, an ingredient commonly added to stoneware clays. If sufficiently concentrated, this iron oxide may be picked up by metal detectors. To find a suitable clay, make your first inquiry by phone, obtaining the name or number of a stoneware clay that contains no iron oxide. At a later date, send the most inconspicuous-looking member of your spiking team in to purchase a bag or box. If necessary, she can be "picking it up for a friend," or can be a college art student purchasing materials for a project.

Clay bodies can be stiffened and made even more durable by the addition of "grog," a gritty, sand-like material usually made of a high-fired refractory mate­rial (ground stoneware) or simply a pure quartz sand. Purchase this from a clay supplier, and specify an 80 or coarser screening. Do not buy fine powder grog, or "soft" grog made of weaker lower-fired materials. The grog is blended into the clay body through a process called "wedging": kneading the material in by hand until it is thoroughly and evenly distributed throughout the clay. Since clay formulas vary from one type to another and from one company to the next, we cannot specify the amount of grog to add to your clay. Just add a little at a time until the clay feels a little coarser and stiffer. If you add too much, the clay will be hard to roll out and will not stick together well. The clay must remain "plastic" to allow you to readily shape it.

When handling the clay directly, always wear plastic gloves. The best types are the disposable examination gloves used by doctors and available at medi­cal supply houses. More expensive, but more readily available, are the plastic gloves sold at all grocery stores in the kitchenware section. These types are more durable and will survive repeated use. Whichever type you use, obtain gloves with a skin-tight fit.

The pins are made simply by rolling the clay out to the desired thickness, and cutting it to the appropriate length. As with the metallic pins described above, you will have to use a drill to make a hole in the tree for inserting the pin. Choose your drill (cordless battery-type or old fashioned brace and bit) and find the largest bit you can readily use, up to one inch in diameter. Experiment on a recently fallen tree to insure that your drill and bit combination allows you to drill a hole up to four or five inches deep. The thicker your ceramic pin is, the more likely it is to either dull or break a sawmill blade. Therefore, if you can drill one-inch diameter holes, roll out the clay to a one-inch thickness. It will shrink some in drying and firing and will fit easily in a one-inch hole. As to pin length, four inches is plenty long; cut some shorter lengths, too, like two and three inches. This way, if your drill encounters a hard spot like a knot in the wood preventing you from drilling to the desired depth, you can use a shorter pin in the shallow hole.

Once your pins are rolled and cut, set them aside for a couple of weeks to thoroughly dry. They must be completely dry or they will break apart in firing. Also, make sure the clay is well-compressed during the rolling-out, as even tiny air pockets left inside the clay will blow up during firing.

Finally, your ceramic pins will be ready for the final stage in preparation-the firing. High temperature firing brings about chemical changes in the clay, causing the particles to bond together through vitrification. The end product is a material so hard it will easily scratch glass. In hardness, it ranks with some types of steel, although it will shatter under a heavy blow (making it unsuitable for spiking with hammers). Still, it is high enough on Mohs' scale of hardness to cause damage to sawmill blades.

High-temperature firing can be achieved only in a gas-fired kiln. The pins must be fired to "cone 10," which generally ranges from 2350 to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Firing to lower temperatures will not produce the same hardness. Following are some of the sources for gas firing:

SCHOOLS - Various college classes, adult education courses, and private instructors maintain gas kilns for student use.

DO-IT-YOURSELF - This entails purchasing a gas kiln and making the nec­essary hookups to a source of bottled LP gas. This all costs several hundred dollars. Take a college course or private course through a competent potter to learn the principles and mechanics of gas firing before undertaking this step yourself.

PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS - Across the nation, there are thousands of pro­fessional potters selling their hand-thrown wares through art and craft shows attended by the public. Some of them will be amenable to letting you pay for custom firing in their kilns. This allows you to have the job done professionally. As a way of developing this contact, you might buy several pieces from them at a show, and ask if you can come to their studio later to buy more of their wares. If you appear to be a good customer, the potter might agree to fire a few dozen pins for you. To make sure your contact is a competent profes­sional, check out their product line. They should carry a wide range of practi­cal goods (cups, bowls, planters, etc.) and should stock large numbers of items. Avoid those who don't seem to have much to choose from. Check the quality of their firing by breaking one of the inexpensive items you bought from them. The broken edge, revealing the inside of the fired clay, should be a medium to dark brown. If it appears very dark, almost blackish, the work is poorly fired (over-vitrification) and is too brittle. Do not let such a potter do your firing. Make sure you check the broken edge, as an external examination will not reveal this type of sloppy firing. Of course, make sure their goods are stoneware fired to a cone 10.

Security is of primary consideration when firing in someone else's kiln, or when having a custom firing done. Do not use your real name. Never reveal the intended use of the ceramic pins unless the person handling the firing is a member of your spiking team. Do not attempt to recruit for your spiking team the person doing your firing unless it is a trusted friend of many years' acquain­tance, or a trusted relative. If possible have a trusted confidant handle the manufacture and firing of the pins at a location far from the forest where they will be used.

Have ready an air-tight reason for your intended use of the pins. Make up a convincing story, perhaps about how you plan to assemble them into an ab­stract sculpture. Use your imagination. The possibilities are limitless.

As a further means of obscuring their intended use, fire the pins in twelve inch lengths. These can later be cut-down to suitable lengths using a diamond wire hand saw available for $15 to $25 through a jeweler or lapidary supply house (found in most large cities).

It's a good idea to have a member of your team take a course in pottery to become familiar with the materials, techniques, and terminology. This can help in manufacturing a convincing cover story for the firing of your peculiar pins.

Competent private instructors, although not as widely available, can be a good source of schooling and kiln access.

Inserting Ceramic Tree Spikes

A hand-powered brace and bit type of drill is both inexpensive and very ef­fective for drilling large diameter holes in trees. It is also laborious and time-consuming, so you should plan to work on only six to a dozen trees per hit. Small numbers are sufficient if using non-metallic pins since the Freddies will be unable to find them; and if the lumber company cuts anyway, the pins will make it to the sawmill to attack the blades.

When a team is working in an area currently being logged, it is necessary to take security precautions that might not be necessary when working in a re­mote roadless area. Night work may be essential, and this creates additional problems. Absolutely critical is the ability to conceal all signs of your work. To gain this ability, you must practice during daylight hours in a safe and secluded location. Only by polishing your technique beforehand can you be sure you will leave no evidence at the scene. When chips of bark are glued back into place, there must be no telltale seams, cracks, or excess glue. All wood shavings must be carefully swept onto a towel and carried away a short distance for shallow burial. A dark terry cloth towel is recommended since the shavings will stick well to the rough surface.

When working at night, use a flashlight to carefully double-check your work when finished. The best flashlight is the current-issue GI flashlight available at most army surplus stores. It is made of green high-impact plastic, has an an­gled head (the light shines at a right angle to the body), and takes two "D" cell batteries. Unscrew the base cap and inside you'll find a red plastic lens that fits under the "0" ring screwed onto the standard lens. This red light is suffi­cient for close work and will not ruin your night vision. If you insist on using a penlight type of flashlight, close one eye to protect at least half of your night vision. As with all tools, make sure all surfaces inside and out (including batteries) are wiped clean of fingerprints.

Your brace should be lightly oiled to insure silence, and you should carry a spare bit so that you can always work with a sharp bit. Since you have to lean into the brace to get maximum effectiveness, this tool is particularly effective on felled trees that have been limbed and bucked (cut into shorter lengths). These can be found either scattered about the logging site, or near skid trails or "landings" where they are piled for loading onto trucks.

When working in an area currently being logged, remain concealed by work­ing low to the ground, hidden by shadows, or in areas where the terrain pre­vents viewing from any distance. Take these precautions when working in the dark. As in any spiking operation, it is essential to have an alert lookout well posted to guard the approaches. Working low will protect you from Forest Service enforcers using night vision devices. The lookout and pinner(s) need a signaling system of bird calls or short range radios. Always use a nonde­script code on the radio.

It takes a brave monkeywrencher to work a logging site in the night, but re­member that you have the choice of time and place. This advantage, when coupled with basic security precautions, will guarantee your success.

- T. O. Hellenbach


A simple way to test ceramic pins for metallic content is to run a magnet over them. If you detect any significant magnetic attraction, the pins probably contain ferrous metals, and maybe susceptible to metal detectors.

Instead of going to all the hassle of making your own ceramic pins or cut­ting rock slivers, just buy the ceramic rods that are used in knife sharpeners ­"crock sticks." They're uniform in diameter and come in useful lengths. They can be broken into shorter lengths if you want. They can sometimes be pur­chased at flea markets for less than a buck. The uniform diameter allows a closer fit, which means you can drill a smaller hole faster and easier. Crock sticks are iron-free as well.

  In green timber, white glue may not dry sufficiently quickly. In that case, try epoxy for plugging holes after inserting pins.

Ceramic insulators are made out of an extremely hard ceramic and are suit­able for non-metallic tree spikes. Although they are being replaced by plastic insulators, they can often be found in old junk piles or in basements or storage sheds-some can still be seen in National Forests where ancient telephone lines led to fire lookouts (before radios). They also may still be available at large electrical supply stores. Use the standard placement and security meth­ods for non-metallic spikes. Industrial ceramics are used for a wide variety of purposes, and with a little imaginative sleuthing, monkeywrenchers can prob­ably find other readily-available forms suitable for spiking.


Hard Rock vs. Heavy Metal: Quartz Tree Pins

Certain types of rock could well be the ideal type of anti-sawblade "pin" for planting in condemned trees. As with other types of monkeywrenching, proper materials and technique are essential.


Begin by obtaining copies of lapidary. magazines at a quality newsstand. Among these are Gems and Minerals and Lapidary Journal. Scan the ads for lapidary supply houses and supplies in large cities. For security reasons, se­lect a business in a distant city. Make your equipment purchases in cash. Never leave your name or address.

In the magazine ads, look for either manufacturers or retailers of lapidary saws, particularly a type called a "trim" saw, used to cut small stones into pre­cise sizes and shapes. This power tool handles a circular sawblade made of high grade steel core with a cutting edge impregnated with chips of industrial or human-made diamond. The smallest size, a six-inch blade, should be more than adequate. These circular sawblades are far better than band or wire saws for our purposes, as they will handle greater pressures. Make sure your trim saw has a vise for holding the stone during cutting. You will also want to pur­chase the recommended coolant, as it is essential that the sawblade's bottom edge be immersed in this oil-based protective material. An extra blade or two can save you a return trip should you damage your first one while learning proper cutting technique. Trim saws vary in price from about $160 to $350, with good quality models averaging around $300. Diamond blades range in price from $20 to $45. The more costly types are thin blades for fine cutting with a minimum of material loss (important only for work with precious and semi­precious stones), so the lower priced general-purpose blades are what you want. Dulled or damaged blades can be repaired and re-surfaced by manufac­turers, but don't leave a name and address for investigators to trace to you.

Information on proper use of the trim saw can be found at a large public li­brary in lapidary and jewelry-making books. Read and/or photocopy the infor­mation at the library. If you check out a book, you will leave a paper trail be­traying your interest in this subject.

Following are some important rules for correct operation of a trim saw:

I) Always put safety first. Wear safety glasses. Be patient while learning to use the saw.

2) Don't use long extension cords to power the saw as this will cause a loss of power through voltage drop.

3) Maintain proper coolant levels. Otherwise you will quickly destroy an ex­pensive blade.

4) Make sure the surface of the rock you are cutting is at right angles to the blade. Cutting into an angled surface can create side pressures that bring about a wobble and rapidly wear out the blade.

5) Slow down at the end of every cut to keep the rock from breaking and leaving a jagged spur protruding from the cut surface.

Stones can be cut into any elongated shape that will fit into the holes drilled into trees, generally not exceeding one inch in diameter. After cutting, clean the stone "pins" in warm water and dish soap. When finished, store them in a container to prevent accidental handling with bare hands (fingerprints!).



Rock Types

The large majority of rock types are not suitable for modification into "pins" simply because they are not hard enough to damage a sawmill blade. Quartz and related minerals are perhaps best. On the Mohs' hardness scale (from one to ten), quartz rates a seven, making it harder than steel which ranks from 5.5 to 6.5 Furthermore, virtually anyone with outdoor experience will recognize quartz in the field. Quartz is found throughout most of the US.

Quartz comes in a variety of colors, from clear or milky white, to rose or red­dish, yellowish, and even blue gray in some gold-bearing regions. A good field test for rocks you think are quartz can be carried out with a small piece of glass. If the rock is quartz, it will scratch the glass. If it will not scratch glass, it is simply a quartz look-alike. Start with small quartz rocks until you know what your trim saw can handle. Proper use of the saw will permit a single dia­mond blade to cut thousands of square inches of quartz.

Lower Cost Alternatives

If the cost of procuring a trim saw is prohibitive, one can scour the area of quartz deposits for fragments or river-worn pieces small enough to insert into a one-inch hole. On the negative side, they may be difficult to load into the drilled hole and less likely to come into contact with a sawblade.

Smaller quartz gravel can be combined with cement to make a round pin of some value. First, roll-up heavy paper and glue it into tubes one-inch in diame­ter or a little less. Mix three parts gravel with one part cement and one and one-half parts sand. Add water, a little at a time, until the mix is wet but still very stiff. Next, load it into the tube a little at a time and use a dowel to tamp it into place, eliminating air bubbles. Wearing plastic gloves will protect your hands from the lime in the cement. Set your pins in a cool but moist place to cure. Ideal conditions are 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent relative hu­midity. Allow them to cure from three to six months for maximum strength. Fi­nally, peel off the paper tube exterior and paint the pins with a coat of exterior latex paint to protect the concrete from deterioration. Make sure the concrete is never exposed to freezing temperatures while curing. Use pieces of quartz gravel as large as is feasible.

Still another low cost pin involves using large quartz gravel or cobbles in a matrix of a good quality resin epoxy available at hardware stores and lumber yards. Form it into pins in the same way you would with the concrete method. This can allow you to use larger quartz rock fragments with a better chance of impacting a blade. The paper can be soaked in water and gently scrubbed off once the epoxy has set-up properly.

Rock and concrete pins require the drilling of large-diameter holes in trees which are best done with a brace-and-bit. Use the techniques described earlier for drilling and disguising the presence of the pins. As with ceramic pins, set­ting rock and concrete pins is time consuming and you should not expect to set a great many in one working session. However, properly placed and dis­guised, such non-detectable pins should be a highly effective deterrent. Note: As always, avoid placing the pins in the lower three feet of the tree, where they can cause chain saw kickback, with the possibility of injury to the feller. After all, we're in it to save trees, not hurt people.

- T. O. Hellenbach


* You may be able to find granite cores from old mining operations in rock shops. These circular cores from drilling are ideal non-metallic spikes. They can also be found anywhere test drilling is done, particularly around mines, bridges, dams, and energy plants. Since this drilling is done in order to ana­lyze the underlying rock strata, the core samples are often kept for reference. But since more drilling than necessary is usually done, there's bound to be waste material lying around.

Any good geologist can fairly accurately pinpoint where rocks of particular types come from, so it might be a good idea not to collect rocks from your prop­erty or even nearby.

An effective mold for cement and rock spikes would be the pasteboard tubes inside rolls of toilet paper or paper towels. Another would be a section of PVC pipe. After drying, remove the pasteboard tube or pipe.

An indication that lumber barons are taking non-metallic spikes seriously comes from the Missoula Technology and Development Center News in June, 1990. It reported that a fluoroscope had been tested on logs for detecting ce­ramics and rocks embedded in them.

If you find the suggested methods of pinning with ceramic or rock too much work, try a less sophisticated method. Simply drill a hole, stuff it with gravel or cobbles, fill it with caulking, and plug with a wooden dowel. It is much quicker, simpler, and cheaper. While this may not completely ruin a sawblade, it sure as heck won't do it any good!

Drive small rocks into the crevices of the bark. Tree-cutters hate hitting rocks imbedded in trees even more than nails, as rocks do more damage to saws; and rocks cannot be detected by metal detectors.

LARGE-DIAMETER BITS. Since 1" and 2" diameter holes required for some non-metallic tree "spikes" are generally out of the range possible with cordless electric drills, an old-fashioned hand brace is required. Several types of large­ diameter bits are available. Long (12" and upwards) ship auger bits are good, though difficult to locate and quite expensive. Extra-wide auger bits are avail­able at some well-stocked hardware stores and can be used with an extender for deep holes. Unfortunately, these extenders are hard to find for standard tapered-shank bits. Several models of "micro-dial" bits are available for holes up to 3" wide. These cost around $15 and allow the hole width to be adjusted to match the diameters of the pins used. If you can find a tapered-shank bit ex­tender, use it with the standard-length (about 8") auger bits. If you can't find a tapered-shank auger bit, find a micro-dial bit with a square shank for a power drill. This may have to be special ordered; Irwin Tool Co. does make them. With this bit, you can use readily available power-drill bit extenders ($3 each, lengths up to 18"). The power-drill bit extenders do require a special set of jaws in the hand brace, but most newer models accommodate both square and ta­pered shanks anyway.

Avoid the temptation to use too long an extender. A total length of 18" (bit plus extender) is maximum; any more length will make your set-up too un­wieldy. As always, stick to only the best tools and check second-hand stores first. With a little searching and luck, a set-up as described above can be had for as little as $15! And second-hand shops are the best low cost sources for hard-to-get items like tapered-shank extenders and extra-wide auger bits.

Remember, drilling holes in trees with a bit-and-brace is hard work. You will need to be in shape.

Maximum effectiveness of "super pins" might be achieved by sending a warning letter and a pin sample (so they will believe you!) after the spiking. This in itself may be enough to deter logging in the spiked area; if not, at least the mills will know precisely what is behind the destruction of their expensive blades and won't make the same mistake again.

-The Phantom Driller


The Monkeywrencher's Dream?

Remember that scene from the film The Graduate, in which the corporate ex­ecutive tells Dustin Hoffman where the future lies? "I have just one word for you. Plastics." Well, that may also be the word for those seeking new ways to deter the timber industry and their lackeys in the Forest Service.

An article in the October 1987 issue of The Barker, a woodworkers' journal published in Vancouver, BC, describes the serious problem of contamination of pulpwood by small particles of plastic that find their way into the wood chips destined for paper-making. We have been hearing rumors for years that there is an insidious method for sabotaging the pulp-making process. Finally we have some facts.

It seems that most plastic gets into wood chips inadvertently, through worker carelessness. Items such as plastic bags and wrappers, nylon rope, cups, eating utensils, plastic bottles, pens, and even hard hats have fallen onto conveyors and into vats. In the course of manufacturing, the larger pieces of wood are screened out for "redigestion," which means that these plastic items keep getting recycled until they are small enough to pass through screens and enter the pulp.

These particles of plastic are insidious because they do their damage after the final product-the paper-has left the mill. Plastic specks in the paper cause problems primarily because the plastic melts when heated. Plastic has clogged paper-coating machines, leaving lines on expensive, coated paper. Paper-makers have also found "windows" in paper, caused where plastic has melted and stuck to rollers during manufacturing. Plastic particles in computer paper have melted and gummed up computer equipment. The problems caused by plastic particles in paper are so serious that whole batches of paper have been rejected by the purchaser when contamination has been discov­ered. In some cases, paper-makers have paid for damages to purchasers of paper who did not find plastic particles until it was too late to prevent damage to products or equipment.

How much plastic does it take to cause problems? I quote from the article: It takes only ten pinhead size specks per bale of pulp to ruin the whole ship­ment and one foot of polypropylene rope will produce approximately one million specks. The particles ... are almost impossible to remove from the pulping process.

This information has applications for monkeywrenchers. As more and more old growth falls to the chain saw, increasing numbers of trees cut on National Forests, and elsewhere, will be small trees destined for wood chips. Of course, unless someone actually works in a mill, or has access to the trucks that haul the chips to a pulp mill (these distinctive-looking trucks are a common sight in some woodland areas), it probably won't be easy to contaminate the wood after it has been reduced to chips. But this leaves the charming possibil­ity of "contaminating" the trees before they are cut and reduced to chips­ "contaminating" them in such a way that they will be undesirable as pulp, or at least undesirable for high-grade paper pulp (some pulp is also made into card­board boxes, particle board, and the like, and plastic particles may not ruin these products). We don't know of anyone yet who has field experience using "plastic spikes," but it seems that it should be fairly simple.

Since polypropylene rope was singled out for notice in the article, perhaps this is as good a plastic "contaminant" as any. Polypropylene rope would also have the advantage of disintegrating rather rapidly-anyone who has used it must know how easily the ends fray.

Holes could be drilled (using a bit and brace) in trees in an area destined for pulpwood cutting. Since small trees are usually destined for pulp-generally trees less than 8" in diameter-the holes won't have to be as deep as those for traditional spiking. Two or three inches beyond the bark might be sufficient. The hole needs to be slightly larger than your rope diameter. Take a small segment of polypropylene rope and tamp it all the way into the hole. Then fill the remainder of the hole with a caulking material, and camouflage as in any spiking operation. As in any spiking, if the trees can be "inoculated" a few years before they're scheduled to be cut, all the better, since nature will have time to cover up the work before it's time to notify the Freddies (or whomever) that the trees have been subjected to preventive medicine.

Activists in British Columbia are also using Styrofoam cups, foam ear plugs, and similar materials to "soft spike" trees slated for pulping. An advantage in this kind of "spiking," is that no one will whine about the danger presented to millworkers of flying shrapnel from Styrofoam cups or bits of rope.

-Harry Orchard



Some monkeywrenchers have tried saving trees from being cut by marking them with paint as "leave trees." This is accomplished by marking a tree with Forest Service orange at four and a half feet and at ground level on two sides. There are now traceable isotopes added to FS leave tree paint, so look-alike orange paint may not be as effective as it once was. If you find a friendly in the FS willing to part with some FS orange, remember that in applying it you will probably get some of it (and the tracer) in your hair, clothes, etc. and this could be evidence against you.

Often a tree will be unmarked by covering the "cut blue" paint with any dark spray paint. This could be an easier way to save a tree marked for cutting. Tracer paint isn't needed for this.


"Always pull up survey stakes!" This was Ed Abbey's advice to all outdoor visitors. It seems a great many people are following his advice. Wherever the machine has been spreading its destruction, be it in the city suburbs or in the remote backcountry, a near-epidemic of stake-pulling has the land rapers-be they Freddie bureaucrats or corporate developers-on the defensive. Inter­estingly, it is not just wild-eyed eco-radicals who are pulling stakes. Redneck hunters of the old school, the sort who pack in to get their Elk and who well know what impact development would have on their favorite hunting grounds­ these folks are doing it, too. We've even heard of miners pulling up stakes from Freddie logging roads in Idaho-although we doubt they were motivated by lofty ideals-they just wanted to be left to their destructive activities in peace, undisturbed by rival rapists.

Unfortunately, a great deal of stake-pulling is haphazard. In fact, most stake-pulling is probably unplanned and done on impulse by someone just out for a hike. This is unfortunate on two counts. First, to pull a few survey stakes here and there, while leaving the bulk of them untouched, won't slow the devel­opers much. The surveyors will come to work, notice the damage done, curse a bit, and replace the missing stakes with a day or two of extra work. Little has been done to halt the machine, beyond making a simple gesture of defiance (not that there aren't times when a gesture of defiance is better than nothing). Second, casual, spur of the moment stake-pulling is unfortunate because it exposes the monkeywrencher to possible arrest. And pulling up survey stakes is a crime. It is considered destruction of property, and someone taken in the act of removing survey stakes could be charged with a felony. At the very least, she will be charged with a misdemeanor. Howie Wolke in Wyoming received six months in the county jail and a $750 fine combined with $2500 of restitution to Chevron for pulling survey stakes on a proposed oil & gas explo­ration road in a roadless area-this was after he had plea-bargained a guilty plea to a misdemeanor in exchange for dropping felony charges which could have sent him to the state penitentiary for several years.

Yet stake-pulling, well-planned and systematically done, can be one of the most effective means of monkeywrenching. It requires no esoteric technical know-how and no specialized tools. It can be done with one monkeywrencher and one alert lookout. Moreover, the stake puller need not carry the onus that the tree and road spiker or bulldozer burner carries. And stake-pulling can be effective-very effective. While it is certainly possible to trash the wilderness without the benefit of scientific surveying-the crude roads bulldozed by half­ assed small-time miners are the classic example-accurate surveying is es­sential for even the most mildly sophisticated construction projects. Logging haul roads, for instance, require precise gradients and curves-the faster the trucks can get the logs out, the greater the profit margin for the operators. Even more precise surveying is needed for the construction of buildings (corner locations and elevations are critical), the layout of water and sewer lines, and the like. If the surveyor's work is obliterated before such a project is completed, their work must be redone before the project can proceed. A day of systematic monkeywrenching can result-and in numerous known cases has resulted-in many weeks of extra work for the survey crews. In those parts of the country where winter stops construction activities, a day or two of well ­planned stake removal could easily postpone a project until the next year ... and the next year. Done often enough and well enough, the trashing of the work of the surveyors can increase the costs of environmentally destructive projects to the point that the projects are canceled. After all, profits are the name of the game in the land rape business.

As we have said, surveying may precede a wide variety of development pro­jects, whether it is a shopping mall gobbling up open space on the edge of a city, a new ski resort replacing Grizzly Bear habitat in a mountain meadow, or a new road gutting the heart of a previously roadless area for the loggers and the big oil corporations. The first tangible signs of all of these projects will most likely be the surveyors in their bright orange vests, leaving behind them a trail of confusing wooden stakes and multicolored ribbons.


The most ubiquitous form of development, at least in previously unviolated areas, is the road. Roads are of necessity a precursor of any large-scale de­velopment in the wilderness, whether it is for logging, mining, oil and gas explo­ration, or simply modern "industrial" tourism.

Roads range from paved, high-speed highways which may involve measure­ments down to the hundredths of a foot, through unpaved but still relatively so­phisticated "all-weather" roads (the major trunk roads on the National Forests are of this variety) down to fairly crude logging "feeder" roads, which are mea­sured, during the surveying phase, merely to the nearest foot. What all these roads have in common is that they require surveying.

For the sake of explanation, we will discuss the surveying of a typical low-grade logging road of the sort constructed on the public lands. Thousands of miles of these roads are built each year, generally at taxpayers' expense, to the benefit of a few big logging companies and to the detriment of the forest. The basic principles used in this example would apply, with only minor differ­ences, to the surveying of any road.

Our hypothetical road will be built into the "Last Stand Grove" on the Timber Sale National Forest. In the beginning, timber cruisers indicated the presence of "commercial" timber in the Last Stand Grove area. This may have originally happened many years ago, when even the Freddies didn't think that the trees in Last Stand Grove were economically feasible to cut. But the bureaucracy has a long memory, and finally the day arrives when only remote and marginal stands of trees remain uncut. So the "timber beasts" schedule a sale in Last Stand Grove-no matter that only five million board feet of timber will be sold in return for the construction of ten or twelve miles of new road-since their job is to meet the Forest's annual projected "cut," they don't worry about economics.

Since each National Forest maintains a "Five-Year Timber Plan," updated an­nually, the Last Stand Grove Timber Sale is planned five years ahead of the projected date. Sometimes due to fluctuations in the timber industry, the pro­jected date may not be met, but as a rule about a year or two prior to the scheduled date of the sale, depending on available personnel and other work priorities, the actual surveying of the road network into the sale area begins. In the meantime, timber marking crews have probably already been sent into the sale area to mark trees for cutting (although sometimes this is not done until after the survey crews have begun laying out the roads).

Just as the timber cruising, "stand exams," and marking are done by the Tim­ber Branch of the Forest Service, the design and surveying of the road network fall under the jurisdiction of the Engineering Branch. The engineers study to­pographical maps and get a rough idea of the most feasible route for a road into the Last Stand Grove. The next step is to send a couple of people out into the woods to see if this route is practical. This crew flags the route as they go, by tying brightly-colored ribbon to the trees, while trying to keep within a certain grade. Sometimes the route roughly charted on the maps proves infeasible in the field due to the topography, and the engineers are forced to take a different approach. But generally they find a workable route. Their biggest difficulty is usually keeping within the required grade. Although short stretches of logging road may exceed 8 or 9 percent, engineers try to keep below 6 percent on most stretches. The steeper the road, the slower the haul traffic.

If you happen across a line of flagging in the woods, you may have encoun­tered a road in the earliest stages of survey. Should you remove the flagging, you have probably cost the developers a couple of days' work at the most. It would be better to wait until the surveying has progressed further, when mon­keywrenching would have a greater effect. Incidentally, "flagging" is what sur­veyors call the brightly colored plastic tape that they use to mark their work and make it easy to locate. Red and orange are the colors most favored by surveyors, although they may use others. Exploiters besides surveyors may use flagging; timber crews frequently use it to mark sale boundaries, although they usually favor blue, yellow, or striped flagging.

After the engineers have roughly flagged the route of the road, a more proper survey is done. This employs a crew of three to five people. On large road pro­jects, several crews may work simultaneously on different sections of the road. Sometimes the crews live in temporary housing (usually trailers, rarely tent camps) near the work area, but not usually. Often survey crews spend nearly as much time driving over forest roads as they do working in the woods.

The road survey crew performs a two-fold function. The survey crew pre­cisely marks the location of the road on the ground, a route that will later be followed by the construction workers when the road is actually built. At the same time, the crew gathers and records data which will later be used in the ac­tual design of the road. This data will enable the designers to estimate such things as the needed amounts of cut and fill, blasting, culverts or bridges, and the like. This information will be used to estimate construction costs. Nowa­days, actual road design is generally done by computer, after all the pertinent data has been collected and processed.

The survey crew follows the line of preliminary flagging, laying out the route. Distances are measured from the beginning of the road, and are measured from point to point along the "centerline" of the route. Each point on the cen­terline called a "station" is numbered. Each station is marked, usually with a stake (and sometimes also in other ways, which will be described later). On low-grade logging roads, where precision is not essential, measurements are usually done by "chaining": measuring with an engineer's tape. These tapes are usually made of reinforced cloth, and are 50 or 100 feet long. For more precise measurements, it was formerly the practice to use a "steel chain," which is a thin, flexible steel measuring tape up to 200 feet long. However, where sophisticated surveys are needed now it is common to employ various forms of "electronic distance meters," or EDMs, which use a laser beam to take instantaneous and accurate measurements between the instrument and a "rodman" holding a reflector. Whatever the means used, the object is the same: the measurement of distances between stations along the centerline of the road.

On a low-grade logging road such as the one to the Last Stand Grove, sta­tions may be placed at pre-set intervals of 50 feet or so. Stations are also placed wherever there is a "break" in the terrain. A "break" is a significant change in the terrain-it might be a slight hollow or a major rock outcrop. In complex terrain, stations are more closely spaced. Where the route crosses a stream, for instance, stations might be placed at the top of the banks, at the actual edge of the stream, and in the center of the stream. Stations are also placed at any point where the centerline of the road changes direction.

The survey crew makes a note of anything of significance in the terrain at each station, and also generally runs a "cross-section." In a cross-section, an imaginary line is plotted at right angles to the centerline of the road. The crew takes a chain out 50 or 100 feet above and below the centerline and records differences in elevation at various distances from the centerline. For low-grade roads this is done by simply recording angles from the centerline with a clinometer or hand level. In more sophisticated surveys a tripod-mounted level is set up over the centerline station to record exact elevation differences along the cross-section. Occasionally, stakes are placed above and below the cen­terline along the line of each cross-section ("cross-section stakes").

When the crew "puts in" a station, they place a stake with the numerical designation of that station in the ground. On a low-grade road, the survey stake itself is the only indicator of the station. In more elaborate surveys, where precise distances are required, the station is marked by a nail or a "hub and tack." A hub is a fat (usually 2" x 2") stake which is pounded flush into the ground-a small tack is then placed in the top at the precise location of the station. This is of importance to the monkeywrencher, since if you want to do a thorough job of monkeywrenching a survey project, you need to remove every­thing -every bit you leave will make the job of re-surveying easier-yet you may not notice a hub flush with the ground and almost certainly will not notice something as small as a nail, unless you know to look for such things around survey stakes.

Sometimes, especially in areas with heavy cattle grazing, small colored flags attached to long wires are fastened to the point of a stake or hub before it is driven into the ground. These flags make the stakes easier to locate, but their real purpose is to make the survey animal-proof. Survey stakes are fre­quently pulled out of the ground or broken off due to the activities of cows or other large herbivores (cows as monkeywrenchers?). Often the stake is to­tally absent but the flag remains. Monkeywrenchers should be sure to pull up such flags, and look for a hub-it may be covered with a layer of dirt, pine needles, or the like.

Stakes are numbered beginning with the starting point of the road. The num­bering system used is fairly standard, and a brief explanation may be of some use to the serious monkeywrencher. Theoretically, the starting station on a road would be "zero," which would be written as "0000," since it's a four digit system measured in feet. A station 50 feet from the starting point would be written as "0050." It is common, though, to start out at 1000' ("1000") to allow for later adjustments in the design. So if "1000" is the beginning station in a road, a station 250 feet farther down the centerline would be written as "1250," and one 1000 feet from the starting point would be written as "2000." You can therefore determine by the station numbers where you are in relation to the starting point of a line of survey stakes-if you cross a survey line in the woods at station "6200," for example, you are likely about a mile from the starting point (assuming the first station was "1000"). Of course, only explo­ration will tell you how far the stakes go in the opposite direction-unless you have some "inside" information on the project.

In addition to a number, each stake will probably have a letter or series of let­ters written on it. These may be "PT" or "POT," which stand for "point on tangent," or "PC" or "POC," which stand for "point of curve." A point on tangent is simply a station along a straight section of the centerline, while the point of curve is a station where the centerline either begins or ends a curve. On low-grade logging roads, the Freddies usually employ a simpler designation: sta­tions on a straight line are designated with a "P," for "point," while stations at the beginning or end of a turn are designated "PI," for "point of intersection." The importance of this to the monkeywrencher is that "PC" or "PI" stations, where the road will change direction, are more critical than the stations on a straight line. At "PC," "POC," and "PI" stations, the survey crews, in addition to their usual cross-section, also record the angle and direction of the turn. For low-grade roads this is done with a hand or staff compass; on more sophisti­cated roads this is done with a theodolite or its electronic equivalent. Because the "loss" of a PC or PI station can necessitate a lot of replacement work, these stations often have special "reference points," which are additional means of locating the station should the original hub and/or stake be removed or otherwise effaced.

Reference points (or "RPs," as they are usually termed) are not inspired by monkeywrenchers, although their use has certainly become more common in areas where the deliberate removal of survey stakes has become a popular pastime. Survey stakes, hubs, and the other markings of survey crews are of­ten obliterated in perfectly "innocent" ways. If a road is not immediately built, for example, the ravages of nature begin to take their toll. Stakes weather fast, flagging fades and eventually disintegrates, and some forest creatures speed the process up by gnawing on the stakes. An additional reason for the use of RPs is that when the construction workers arrive on the scene, they of­ten accidentally knock over stakes before their usefulness is finished.

RPs may be placed several ways. Perhaps the simplest and most common is to set a hub and tack a given distance from the station (remember, it will probably be a "PC," "POC," or "PI" station). The hub and tack will be placed to the side of the roadway. In extremely hard ground a nail will probably be used instead of a hub and tack. The distance will vary, but it might be as far as 50' away, although the distance has a lot to do with visibility. Then a second hub and tack (or nail) will be placed a number of feet beyond the first one, on a tan­gent (straight line) leading to the station that is being RP'd. Thus, if the original station is obliterated, by lining up the two RPs and measuring the distance it is possible to re-set the station. It is important for the prospective monkey­wrencher to check carefully for RPs when removing survey stakes. If you don't find any on your first couple of "PC" or "Pl" stations, it is probably safe to assume that there aren't any, but if they are present a thorough job of mon­keywrenching requires their removal. Fortunately, RPs are also usually marked by stakes and flagging, so that the surveyors can find them again.

Another way RPs are sometimes done is to place a hub and tack or nail a given distance off the centerline, measure the distance, and take a compass bearing from the RP to the centerline station. This method is not as accurate as the previous method, and is not likely to be employed on sophisticated surveys. On simple surveys in wooded terrain, RPs usually consist of no more than a couple of stakes nailed to widely-separated trees away from the center­line. By simultaneously measuring known distances from those two stakes, the surveyors can relocate the original station. (No bearings are taken.)

Just before actual construction of a road begins, a final survey is done. Any changes in the centerline suggested in the final design are made. More impor­tantly (for the monkeywrencher, at least) additional staking is done. "Slope stakes" are placed above and below the centerline. These stakes indicate such things as the top of the cut and the bottom of the fill. At stream crossings they indicate such things as the position of culverts. Slope stakes usually bear written information regarding the width of the roadway, depth of cut, and so on. Slope stakes are more for the benefit of the inspectors than the bull­dozer operators, who rarely read them and knock them out with their 'dozers as soon as work commences. The best time to monkeywrench a road survey is after the main survey has been completed but before slope staking begins. A monkeywrencher has far more stakes to remove if he or she waits until this final phase, and by then it is frequently too late to stop the road. The slope-staking crews sometimes work only a few days ahead of the 'dozer crews.

FLAGGING - Survey crews leave lots of bright-colored flagging to mark their path. While this flagging may be offensive to the aesthetic sense, it cer­tainly makes it easier for a monkeywrencher to locate all the stakes, hubs, and nails. Usually flagging is placed on the stakes themselves (although there is a trend to use pre-painted stakes instead-red or orange are the most common colors). Hubs are not flagged, since they are generally pounded flush into the ground, but nails have a strip of flagging tied around the head before they are driven into the ground. In addition, flagging is usually hung on a branch above the stake (in wooded country). Thus the centerline of the road is usually well­marked with flagging. When slope-staking is done, two additional lines of flag­ging (one above and one below the centerline) are usually placed. This flag­ging delineates the zone that will be cleared of trees ahead of the bulldozers. In addition to pulling out all stakes, nails, and hubs, the thorough monkey­wrencher should remove all flagging. The harder it is for the surveyors to re-lo­cate the route of a road, the more costly and time-consuming a re-survey will be.

   A monkeywrencher removing stakes and flagging from a road project will quickly accumulate more stakes and flagging than can be conveniently car­ried. A good idea is to carry a pack' in which to place stakes and flagging. Pe­riodically, the monkeywrencher should detour some distance away from the route of the road, and dispose of this material in such a way that it is not likely to be easily seen. Burning has been suggested, but this is time-consuming and might jeopardize security, and in any event is not recommended for flag­ging, which is plastic. A better method is to bury the material. At the very least, stakes should be broken and all stakes and flagging hidden under logs or rocks. Resist the temptation to carry any of the material out with you once you've finished monkeywrenching a project. Stakes and flagging would consti­tute incriminating evidence should you be stopped and searched. (See FIELD NOTES for additional and important security considerations.)

Construction Sites

Any development involving structures is extensively surveyed prior to con­struction. Not only are the locations of corners, water and sewer lines, and such important, but it is necessary to have precise elevations for foundations and to provide proper drainage for sewer lines. For these reasons the survey­ing done on construction sites is more precise than that done for most roads.

Monkeywrenching can seriously retard major construction projects.

The basic principles of surveying are the same as for roads, and you will find a profusion of hubs and tacks, nails and stakes around any major construction site. The main thing to keep in mind around a construction site is that refer­ence points, or RPs, are almost certainly used for all major points of signifi­cance. This is because as soon as actual construction starts, all of the hubs, nails, and the like marking important locations get ripped out during excavation for the buildings, even though it is absolutely necessary to relocate all of these points. Therefore, well away from the building site you will find numerous RPs. A proper job of monkeywrenching will require removal of all of these, in addition to the hubs, stakes, and such on the actual building site.

On a construction site, the stakes will often carry a description of what they represent, as "water line," "corner of building," "edge of sidewalk," and such. Frequently, longer-than-usual stakes are employed. These are called "laths," and may be 2' or 3' long. Laths are also frequently used in the slope-staking of roads.


OFFSET STAKES - Survey stakes may be offset from the actual location of the station. This may be for several reasons. If the station falls on a rock where a stake cannot be driven, a masonry nail may be driven into the rock to mark the station, and the stake offset several feet. Sometimes the ground is simply too hard to admit a stake (but usually not a nail). On road reconstruc­tion projects, where stations may fall in an existing roadway, stakes or laths are offset to the side of the road. You have probably seen these while driving down a highway about to be improved. If the existing road is unpaved, nails with flagging or shiners on them (a shiner is a small, bright metal disk through which a nail is driven) are driven into the actual station, while the stake bearing the station number is offset to the side of the road. If the existing road is paved, a masonry nail is driven into the pavement at the station, and the sta­tion number is spray-painted on the surface of the pavement.

When a stake is offset, the distance of the offset is written at the top of the stake, enclosed in a circle or oval. The writing on the stake faces the direction of the station. If you find such a stake, you can usually find the actual station by roughly measuring the distance written on the stake and searching for a nail. Sometimes a stake may be offset several feet from a hub, particularly in hard ground. A hub can sometimes be successfully driven into ground hard enough to shatter the thinner identifying stakes.

BENCH MARKS - A "bench mark" is a point of known elevation. The classic example is the USGS markers (usually a brass cap) which one finds frequently on mountain tops or other prominent locations. In many survey projects (including some road projects) it is necessary to know exact elevations. Working from a permanent bench mark, like a USGS bench mark, the survey­ors establish the elevation of a number of "temporary bench marks" ("TBMs") in the project area. Large, stable rocks with small protuberances are favorite subjects for temporary bench marks. The rock will frequently be spray-painted and the elevation of the protuberance written on the rock. Another oft-used method is to drive a large nail most of the way into a tree. The head of the nail is the TBM, and its elevation is usually written on a stake nailed to the tree. The tree will also probably be prominently flagged or spray-painted. While TBMs painted on rocks would be difficult to efface, nails in trees can either be driven all the way in and disguised or removed with a claw hammer.

Sometimes for major construction projects survey crews establish perma­nent bench marks at the construction site. These usually consist of small copper caps or larger (4" - 5" diameter) aluminum ones set in concrete. The cap is attached to a metal rod (sometimes up to 2' long) which is driven to within a few inches of the ground surface, after which a few inches of concrete are poured around the metal cap. These are called "monuments." Removing one would probably require a shovel and/or pry bar. Needless to say, removal of a monument is illegal; in fact, it usually says so right on the metal cap.

PHOTO PANELS - You have probably seen these in the woods. They con­sist of sheets of plastic, a foot or two wide and ten or more feet long, usually arranged in a cross or "X." The plastic is usually white, although black plastic is sometimes used on a light-colored surface. The purpose of these is to aid in mapping by aerial photography. If you look at the center of the "X," you will find a hub, nail, or piece of rebar. This marks a point with known coordinates (i.e., it has been set after the surveyors have run a traverse out to it). Several of these panels will be laid out in advance of a photo session. This may sound in­nocent, but such mapping is frequently done in connection with major con­struction projects. Unfortunately, photo panels are frequently left to rot in the woods after the job is done; effective monkeywrenching would have to be done during the short interval between the time they are laid out and the time the photos are taken-this sometimes is a matter of days, though it may be sev­eral weeks.

-Leather stocking


* TOOLS - While little specialized equipment is necessary for the saboteur of survey stakes, a few items are helpful. As mentioned earlier, a pack to carry stakes, flagging, and other trash one might pick up is helpful. Don't carry out anything that might be incriminating. Bury or otherwise conceal it away from the road or construction site.

A claw hammer is useful for pulling nails out of trees or pavement, and even makes it simpler to remove nails from soft ground. It also can prove useful in removing hubs from hard ground. Give the head of the hub a few good whacks to one side or another. That will probably loosen the hub enough so that it can be pulled out by hand.

* SECURITY - Removing survey stakes may seem like a relatively innocu­ous occupation, but the authorities and the corporate minions do not consider it trivial. Always use a lookout. If you see anyone else in the vicinity, stop, get rid of anything incriminating, and get out of the area. Always have an escape route planned. Treat this activity as seriously as you would any other form of monkeywrenching.

If you are working in an area in which there has been considerable monkey­wrenching, the authorities may well be on the lookout for saboteurs. Do not discount the possibility that a survey project may be staked out (no pun in­tended) or that someone may have followed you into the woods. It has been reported that on some highly-controversial timber sales the Freddies have re­sorted to putting invisible dyes on survey stakes. The idea apparently is that anyone touching these stakes will get some of the dye on their hands but not be aware of it, and that should they be apprehended, the dye would show up under ultraviolet light. Although it is not likely that this tactic will be widely used, since it will complicate the task of the surveyors and construction work­ers themselves, prospective monkeywrenchers should be aware of the lengths to which the authorities are prepared to go.

Invisible dyes are really nothing new in law enforcement, and have long been used to mark money. If you suspect that the authorities might be using this technique in your area, take a few simple precautions: Wear cheap cotton gloves while monkeywrenching. Place the stakes, as they are removed, in a plastic trash bag. Avoid touching clothing with either gloves or stakes. Before leaving the area, dispose of gloves, stakes, and trash bag(s), preferably where they will never be found. Be sure that you have left no fingerprints on anything-be especially careful with the trash bags. At the earliest opportu­nity, wash the clothes you were wearing on your mission.

* Do not neglect other tactics discussed in this book (road spiking, sand in the oil, etc.) to harass surveyors.


We have received comments from knowledgeable individuals that the "Mining" section in the second edition of Ecodefense contained inaccurate in­formation. In addition to decrying the misleading information about mining claims and staking, critics argued that destroying mine claim posts accom­plished very little at considerable risk. As one experienced monkeywrencher wrote, "If you remove the posts at an early stage, all you will do is warn the claim holder of potential future problems. I personally believe that the vast majority of mining claims aren't worth the trouble." We agree, and have deleted the article on mining claims from this third edition. Instead of wasting your time trashing mining claims, there are far more effective ways to hamper the de­structiveness of both small and corporate miners. Suggestions are offered in the following FIELD NOTES.


* Because so many "mines" are on a shaky financial footing, spiking roads to cause flat tires, plugging culverts to wash out newly bulldozed roads, and mid­night maintenance on heavy equipment and trucks can cause crippling finan­cial losses to a small or medium-sized operator, and sometimes even cause a major company to abandon a project. (The major asset many "small miners" have is their bulldozer which they use with wreckless abandon to scrape up the earth to look for the "mother lode." These fellows are among the most destruc­tive characters loose on our public lands. If you can cripple their bulldozer with the techniques described elsewhere in Ecodefense, you might put them out of business, or at least run them out of the area you are trying to defend.) Secu­rity is of prime importance with any monkeywrenching around a mine site be­cause of the forty-niner mentality still prevalent amongst such "get rich quick" cretins. Do not take unnecessary chances here-you are not simply courting jail, but possible death.

* If you ever run across an unattended drill rig, take the bits away and bury them. Do likewise with any strange looking fittings you find, especially if they are for compressors or pumps. Some of these things are specialized and aren't easily replaced. If there are rows of cuttings, scatter these around. If there are cores, break and scatter them.

* One kind of mining claim marker that should be destroyed is that made of PVC pipe. Many miners are now using four-inch diameter PVC pipe in lengths of about 4 feet as claim markers. They double as death traps. In one case, BLM rangers examined 730 of these posts and found 168 dead birds and lizards. Flycatchers and wrens are particularly vulnerable. Birds enter them for possible nesting sites and can't get out. Bees and other insects die in them as well. Until uncapped pipes are banned as claim markers, they can be tipped over or smashed.


During the last several years, the sabotage of powerlines has become rec­ognized as a major form of monkeywrenching-due largely to several ill planned and poorly thought-out actions. In fact, sabotage of powerlines is of­ten a poor idea. The reasons arguing against powerline ecotage include:

1) The difficulty of explaining why the powerline is being sabotaged. Who is the audience? What is the message? What are you trying to prevent?

2) The strong likelihood of alienating the public. Dropping a powerline may cut off power to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, and cause them great inconvenience. It is doubtful that they will be sympathetic to either your action or to your goals after experiencing the inconvenience. (In one foolish powerline downing near Santa Cruz, California, in 1990, the many vic­tims had recently been hit with a major earthquake.)

3) Law enforcement agencies make powerline sabotage a higher priority than other forms of monkeywrenching. Judges, prosecutors, and police agencies are likely to react severely to something that has the potential of inconveniencing so many people, and that strikes at the heart of the industrial infrastructure.

4) High-voltage powerlines are extremely dangerous and monkeywrenchers could be easily killed trying to sabotage them.

Unless you are prepared to take on these problems, and there is no better al­ternative, leave powerlines alone. Powerlines having any connection to nu­clear power plants have the above problems in spades. Doing anything to such a line will bring the entire weight of the Department of Justice down on your head. (The successful minor ecotage of a powerline connected to the Palo Verde Nuke Plant in Arizona in 1986 triggered the Justice Department's infamous operation against Arizona Earth First!, even though there was no connection between the 1986 incident and Earth First!.)

Ecotage directed at remote powerlines servicing only land-destroying opera­tions, like isolated mines, is more justifiable and safe.

However, there have been successful and justifiable ecotage actions against major powerlines. The most successful was in western Minnesota in the mid- to late-1970s, when a group of farmers, the "Bolt Weevils," continually monkeywrenched a 500 KV powerline under construction. Although that pow­erline was ultimately built, a dozen other projected powerlines were never built. The following guidelines on monkeywrenching powerlines come from anony­mous Bolt Weevil veterans.

Powerlines are highly vulnerable to monkeywrenching from individuals or small groups. The best techniques are: 1) removing bolts from steel towers; 2) if tower bolts are welded to the nuts, cutting steel towers with hacksaws, torches (be careful not to breathe the vapors of galvanized metal-see the "Cutting Torch" section in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter), or cut­ting wheels; and 3) shooting out insulators (with a shotgun), and shooting the electrical conductor itself (a high-powered rifle is best) which frays it and re­duces its ability to transmit electricity. Chain saws, or crosscut saws where noise is a problem, are appropriate for the large wooden towers. Techniques that connect the conductors directly to each other (cable lifted by balloons or shot by harpoon guns) are also effective, but more dangerous to ecoteurs. Used creatively, these techniques can completely baffle the opposition.

* Most powerline towers are attached to a concrete base(s) by large bolts and nuts (with or without the addition of guy wires). (See illustration.) Check the size of the nuts, get a socket set for that size nut, a cheater pipe for better torque, and remove the nuts. You may also want to tap out the bolts with a hammer. Wind will do the rest after you are safely away from the area.

   * The more vulnerable towers are those spanning a canyon, at corners, on long spans, going up or down mountains-anywhere there is added stress or powerful wind. The "domino effect" can be achieved by monkeywrenching a series of towers leading up to a corner, or an otherwise stressed tower, and then monkeywrenching the stressed tower. Do not expect to monkeywrench a stressed tower and then allow the wind to finish the job for you after you are safely away from the area-it will probably come down in your presence. Be prepared.

* If the nuts are welded to the bolts to prevent removal, use a hacksaw to cut through the bolts or even through the supports. This is more difficult, but a night's work can still prepare a good number of towers for toppling in the next storm.

* A cutting torch can also be used for cutting through tower supports (see "Cutting Torch" section in the Vehicles and Heavy Equipment chapter). Keep in mind that use of a cutting torch may result in additional arson charges. This happened in the Arizona case.

* Another effective method, where noise is not much of a problem, is to shoot out the insulators holding the power cables themselves. A twelve-gauge shotgun loaded with double-ought shot is the best tool. Walk under the line until you are directly beneath the insulators on a tower. (See Illustration.) With your back to the wind, take two large steps backwards, aim at the insulators, and commence firing. Be prepared to dodge large chunks of falling glass. Large powerlines are suspended from strings of 20 or more insulators. Break­ing 70 to 90 percent of them in one string is usually enough to ground out the conductor. This may take several rounds (the record is two), and will cause bright sparks. A team of three shotgunners, each taking a string of insulators for one conductor or conductor bundle, is best for a typical AC line. The lines themselves seldom are shot through and thus fall, but be alert for this possibil­ity. Keep in mind that the use of firearms will result in additional charges if you are caught.

 * When insulators are shot out, the line quits carrying power and has to be shut down until the point of disruption is found and repaired. A helicopter may have to fly several hundred miles of powerline to find where it has been mon­keywrenched. Monkeywrenching at a number of locations on the same night compounds the utility company's problems.

* Because of the noise from the use of shotguns, extreme security mea­sures are necessary and several escape routes should be planned. Further­more, the use of firearms makes this a potentially dangerous activity. Do not leave any empty shotgun shells at the scene, since they can be positively traced to the gun that fired them.

* Smaller powerlines are vulnerable to having their insulators shot out by a .22 rifle from a car driving along backroads or a hiker. ("Powerline? What pow­erline? I'm just hunting rabbits.") This is an effective way to discourage power companies from spraying rights-of-way with toxic herbicides if you let the power company know that the damage is being done because of herbicide spraying (techniques for safe communication of this sort are in the Security chapter) and that it will stop when they stop poisoning the area.


* One item in Murphy's Law states, "When loosening bolts, one of them is bound to be a roller (a bolt that will not simply spin off, but must be wrenched off millimeter by millimeter). It will either be the last bolt or the one most difficult to reach."

So, for the soloist, it is wise to carry a cheap 3" C-clamp, which can bought at any hardware store, and a flat box-end wrench. Put the "fixed" head of the C-frame on the outside of the angle iron (the flat side) of the power tower and the floating head of the screw on the inside (sloped face). This gives you a brace to hold the box wrench so you can use both hands on the ratchet. This set-up will sometimes slip, so be careful to avoid skinned knuckles (wear gloves). An off-set wrench will only roll off the nut, adding to your frustrations.

Some powerline towers are supported by guy wires. It would be extremely dangerous to cut the guy wires. They under great tension and the resulting snap could easily kill a nearby person. Also, the tower would be quite unstable after the last guy wire is cut-there is no telling where it would fall.

A safer method is to use a 4 foot long bar on the turnbuckle connecting the guy wire to ground and just unscrew the sucker most of the way. Let the wind do the rest-do not unscrew it all the way or you will be in the same danger as from cutting the wire.

 *  Powerlines are generally patrolled at least once a week at irregular times.

Any work near powerlines or other sources of electricity must be done with extreme caution. The high voltage will kill you if you are careless. If you have the opportunity, watch a power company crew doing "Hot Stick" work. If you must work around live wires, use proper equipment.

According to a recent report from UPI, utility companies are warning the public that small, metallic balloons, such as those sold for birthday parties and Valentine's Day, have been implicated in several recent power failures. "In the past couple of years these metallic balloons have come up from nowhere and have escalated into a major source of power outages," said Harry Arnott, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility.

The Mylar balloons have a 1000th-of-an-inch coating of aluminum, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. When a stray balloon gets caught be­tween two powerlines, it can cause electricity to arc between the lines, melting the lines and sometimes blowing up transformers and causing live wires to fall to the ground.

In 1987 PG & E blamed balloons for 140 power outages, while Southern Cali­fornia Edison reported 229 balloon-caused outages. An outage on Valentine's Day in 1986 caused by a silvery heart balloon affected 20,000 customers. A balloon-caused outage in Antioch, California, in August 1987 affected 2750 customers and fried wires in microwaves, VCRs, and TV sets. The problem caused by holiday balloons has only been recognized recently, because the balloons usually disintegrate when they hit power lines, leaving no trace.

Warning: these balloons, as well as other plastic items, have been impli­cated in the deaths of marine animals, such as turtles and whales, who mis­takenly ingest them. For that reason, their use in monkeywrenching is strongly discouraged. Even though they are effective weapons against powerlines, their danger to biodiversity is even greater. Do not use them, especially not near the ocean.


How Seismic Survey Crews Work

One of the biggest potential threats to wilderness is energy exploration. Ac­cording to the Utah Wilderness Association, for example, over 90 percent of BLM land in Utah is covered by oil and gas leases. The holder of the lease has the right to explore for energy wealth with helicopters, trucks, and sometimes earthmoving equipment; roads have been bulldozed for drilling rigs in several Wilderness Study Areas, even thought this violates BLM regulations for WSAs. Exploration, drilling, and extraction of fossil fuels continue to be re­garded in Washington as priority uses for public lands in the West.

Permits to explore for oil and gas are regularly granted by the BLM and For­est Service with little or no fuss. Environmental damage is supposed to be kept to a minimum, but damage is inevitable; and nobody watches seismic crews to prevent needless tearing up of the land-except at archaeological sites, which must be surveyed and marked by an archaeologist before the seismic work can begin. I heard a story that typifies this kind of situation. A crew was doing a line in Montezuma Canyon in Utah, where they were preceded by a bulldozer to make a road through the rocks. Because the canyon is an archaeologically rich area, full of Basketmaker and later Cliff Dweller sites, an archaeologist marked these sites off limits with blue flagging. Human nature being what it is, the surveyors and the “juggies" raided every blue-flagged area for potsherds and arrowheads!

After the energy company gets its permit, it sends in the surveyors. Work­ing with a "chain," the line is laid out cross-country or along a road using col­ored flags at regular intervals of 110, 220, 440 feet, or whatever for the pattern being used. Later (sometimes not until after the line is "shot") the surveyors sight in the whole line with a theodolite or its electronic equivalent, leaving sur­vey stakes to mark instrument positions. Survey work is easy, although te­dious, to undo. As an ecodefender, the biggest problem is finding a seismic line in the first place; unless you have talked to somebody on the crew over a beer, a glimpse of colored flags along the road or trail is the only clue. Walk along the line and pull them all up. Bring a pack because seismic lines often run thirty miles or more, and that's a lot of flags.



Wild areas commonly have rugged terrain, else they would have been ex­plored and drilled years ago. The advent of "portable" crews has overcome ter­rain problems for oil companies, however, and created problems for wilderness defenders instead. Portable crews arrive by helicopter and use lightweight cable and geophones, and a portable seismograph or "recorder" unit which puts the data on magnetic tape. To create echoes for the geophones to pick up, dynamite charges are set off in drilled holes or on the surface. These ex­plosive charges do little damage to the landscape, but they play hob with any wild animals that may live in the area. In some areas repeatedly explored (oil companies don't share information with one another, so redundant work is commissioned) Bighorn Sheep and other animals have moved away.

 Shot-hole operations use a truck-mounted drilling rig and leave a lot more physical evidence than a portable crew. There are restrictions on the use of this kind of equipment near human habitations, naturally, but most oil and gas exploration is on backcountry roads and trails. The major threat to wilderness here is roads. Needing a road on which to work, a seismic crew will get a bull­dozer and make one.

"Vibroseis" crews are a relatively new development in geophysical work. In­stead of dynamite charges, vibrator trucks are used. Each "vibe" lowers a plate to the ground, and shakes it hydraulically. There are usually four vibes on a crew, most often trucks, but tracked vibes are used by some companies that work off the roads a lot.

A typical crew has about three or four miles of cable and geophones on the ground at any one time. During the work day, the recorder truck is plugged into the cable, "reading" off about two miles of line as the vibes shake at intervals along it. The "jug crew" is picking up the geophones and cables behind the vibes and laying it all out again ahead. At night, the vehicles are usually parked in town but the cable is left in place on the line. Often the cable heads are disconnected at intervals or where the line crosses a road, since people have been known to use a pickup truck or whatever to drag cables away. Ca­ble and geophones are very expensive and hard to replace if lost or damaged.

Seismic crews generally have three or four vibes and jug trucks, and the crew can usually operate well enough even if its loses one of these vehicles. However, each crew possesses only one recorder. If it goes down, no work can be done until it is fixed. A recorder is expensive, complex electronic equipment, and too costly to replace with a spare. If the recorder is down, the crew has to shut down. Juggie lore tells of the time one crew was tired of working seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and so created a vacation by putting a ping-pong ball in the diesel fuel of the recorder truck.

Monkeywrenching Seismic Operations

If you come across seismic equipment in the mountains or desert, there are a couple of cheap, easy ways to cause energy companies untold grief and ex­pense. Concentrate on the thick cables paralleling the strings of geophones. Only two cheap, easily obtained items are necessary: A box of straight pins and a few tubes of super glue. Push two or three straight pins completely into as many cables as you have time for, then bend the pins until the heads break off, so they can't be seen or easily removed. This will short out all wiring in the cable, rendering it useless. Next find the cable heads (where the cable hooks to the next one: 100-300 feet apart). Open the heads by unscrewing or open­ing the latches-depending on the type of cable. Inside, you will see male and female plugs, 2 each, containing 48 or 96 "pins." Cover these with super glue, as well as the joining edges of the cable heads, and put them back together. Most crews only have a few replacement cables, so if you can "fix" 10-20 heads you will shut them down.

If you come across the "doghouse" (computer center of the crew), you prob­ably won't be able to get inside to do any real damage, unless you're carrying bolt cutters or a hacksaw. These things run off generators sitting right next to them, though, and the usual monkeywrench tricks will work there.

In themselves, seismic survey crews do less damage to the land than strip mines, power plants, and dams. However, our remaining de facto wilderness areas (which are not protected by legislation) lie open to road making for seis­mic operations, and when the results from such a survey are positive we get drilling rigs. This type of work should be restricted to land already dominated by the works of civilization. In wildlands, seismic crews are the vanguard of the "rape, ruin, and run boys" and should be stopped.

-Everett Ruess


* Update: Most seismic crews now record many more signals than before, and use "telemetry" systems. They reportedly no longer use cables that plug into one another, which could be glued together by monkeywrenchers as in the past. In the new systems, you will find boxes about eight inches high plugged into the cable at intervals that could be anything from 100 to 1000 feet. The most common brand names are Geosource, GUS, Input/Output, or Sercel. These boxes are worth about $3000 to $8000 apiece, depending on the model. If about one-third of the boxes were dragged off by goddamn wolves or bison and hidden in bushes or holes, this would stop the crew, unless they carry a lot more spares than usual. The cables themselves are not worth so much except one telemetry system uses fiber-optic cables, which are hard to repair if chewed by feral donkeys. Or giant rats.

It is common today to record several parallel lines at once, so if you stumble across one recording line, more may be nearby. Each line cable might lead into the recording truck, which often removed from the site at night. If you en­counter a cable running transversely to the recording cable, this may lead to other lines. Where the transverse cable meets the recording lines, the boxes may look different than the others. These are special boxes, few in number, and a meteorite strike on these would really hold up the crew.

A seismic crew working in mountainous terrain will probably use a radio re­peater. Scanning the peaks with binoculars, you might find an antenna. If you like climbing, an expedition might reveal whether this antenna could be im­proved by an FBI agent provocateur with a gas torch or big rock.

A trade journal called World Geophysical News gives the approximate loca­tions of working crews. Unfortunately, this will set you back $200 a year, and many contemporary surveys are so short they will be finished by the time you read about them. If you arrived on the grid of a freshly completed survey, about all you could do is rip out permanent markers, or swap the numbers of them. Or perhaps you could look for evidence of any damage that breaches the environmental regulations the crew was supposed to observe.

Finally, be careful. Many crews employ a warm body to watch the recording cables at night, when working near any human settlements. Also take note that Greenpeace is being sued for stopping a seismography boat off the coast of Australia.

-Robert LeRoy Parker



Despite the general focus of this book on wilderness defense and the gen­eral public perception that monkeywrenching is restricted to wild lands in the West, ecotage has a long and honorable tradition fighting polluting industries as well. One of the most evolved forms of monkeywrenching is plugging pol­luters' discharge pipes. The following is from an expert in such matters.

The basic trick is to plug wastewater discharge pipes from various indus­tries. Chemical, metal working, electrical generating, mining, sewerage, and oil refining and drilling plants all discharge large amounts of wastewater. Wastewater flow rates can exceed several million gallons per day from a single source.

A single pipe can turn a vital river into a festering toxic sewer. Imagine the reaction at the plant when the foul stuff oozes back into the executive parking lot instead of into an unsuspecting river.

Choosing Targets

This is the easy part. Look in the local yellow pages for one of the facilities mentioned above. Or, walk or canoe along the local riverbank. Mark prospec­tive targets on a map. Use a tape measure to determine the inside pipe diame­ter. Note the type of pipe (concrete, steel, or clay).

SEWER pipes are distinguished by gray-colored water discharges, algae growing in the pipe, rancid smells, and black ooze in sediment near the pipe. These pipes range in size from 12 to 96 inches.

LANDFILLS leak toxic contaminants. The leacheate is often pumped into a local water body. Look for orange iron stains from the leacheate. Thin oily films will form on puddles of the leacheate. Unlike oil slicks, the films are solid, resembling the effect you get when you sprinkle talcum powder on still water.

RAINWATER RUNOFF and drainage pipes are extremely common. These pipes are at the end of natural or artificial drainage courses. They are most of­ten 18 or 12 inches in diameter. They usually run clear, except for the first few minutes after a cloudburst begins. Then all the crap on the roads (oil and heavy metals) gets washed into the' water. Many folks find storm drains a con­venient place for their toxic garbage. This is a favorite trick of big auto repair shops. Plugging a rainwater runoff pipe can have a delayed but dramatic ef­fect on a local industry or shopping mall.

COOLING WATER pipes are universally warm, foamy, BIG, and tough to plug. Generally, intakes for cooling water pipes for chemical plants should not be plugged because such a sudden blockage could result in dangerous condi­tions inside the plant.

INDUSTRIAL WASTE OUTFLOWS are the most noxious of all pipes. The most toxic waters from an industry run anywhere from completely clear and clean-looking to completely black. The water can turn blue litmus paper red or vice versa. If a pipe doesn't fit one of the first four categories, and is located near a chemical, oil, metal, high tech, mining, or other plant, it's probably a toxic discharge.

Plugging A Pipe

SMALL PIPES 18 inches and less in diameter. The first step is to temporar­ily block the flow in the pipe to make your job easier. Many pipes have little or no flow during dry weather. If there is a flow, stop it up temporarily with one or more sand bags. Stuff the sand bag up the pipe as far as you can. This will give you the time you need to work.

Fill a second sand bag with a water-cement-gravel mixture and push it in up to the first sand bag. At this point you should have blocked flow from the pipe. Add a little cement around the bag to lock it in place. Cement in a few bigger rocks for good measure. (See Figure 2.)

Sometimes a bucket filled with cement and gravel will just fit into a pipe. This is especially true for 12" pipes. Add extra cement around the edges inside the pipe to ensure good anchoring. Similar objects filled with cement are available for smaller pipes (vehicle exhaust pipes, for example). Plumber supply stores have commercial pipe plugs for 2 to 8 inch pipes.

MEDIUM PIPES 2 to 5 feet in diameter. For sewer manholes, simply lift the cover and fill the manhole with sandbags. Twenty-five 60 pound bags will fill the largest ones. Far fewer bags can be used if you only stuff them up the exit pipe. The weight of the water will force a complete blockage as the manhole fills up. (See Figure 3.)

Sandbags may also be used as a temporary block while the pipe exit is blocked with bricks and cement. Cement and gravel filled bags will do if extra cement is put between the bags. This is a big operation and will require a vehi­cle and one to two hours work for two people.

BIG PIPES 5 feet and bigger in diameter. These pipes can be bricked and dammed if they are occasionally dry. There may be no or low flow times of day or year. Nail guns (watch out for firearms laws) may be used to attach strips of sheet metal onto bulkheads even if there is some flow. Or you can hammer in regular nails or special nails designed for concrete.

Look upstream for valves, gates, weirs, and intakes which may be easier to plug or gum up.

If the pipe is too big, consider homemade signs that say things like "This way to DuPont's toxic discharge pipe."

When you are done: Clean up all equipment. Dispose of empty containers (no fingerprints!). Camouflage your plugged pipe if possible. A pipe that's hard to find is a pipe that's hard to fix. Don't return to view your handiwork. Rest as­sured that a well-executed pipe plug will shut down even a large operation. City-sized chemical facilities have been shut down by pipe plugs in the past.

(Examples are Dow, Midland, Michigan, 1986; Ciba Geigy, Toms River, New Jersey, 1986; Monsanto, Boston, Massachusetts, 1985.)



Helpful Hints

1) Large utility company cooling water outfalls may discharge 500,000,000 gallons per day, but these megaplants also have much smaller yet equally vital wastewater flows-typically 1-10 MGD flows. An ecodefender can easily stop these flows. Valves and flood gates may also be vulnerable.

2) Start small. What you learn on small pipes will help you with the big ones.

3) Good quality, waterproof, quick-drying cement is worth its weight in gold. Anchoring cement has all these properties and it expands as it sets, too. Ma­rine patching cement is even better, but you'll need practice to use it well.

4) When using cement, mix it with lots of gravel and stones. They provide cheap bulk and make the plug much tougher. If you want to ruin a company's day for sure, add some rebar and chicken wire to your cement plugs.

5) Plugging an intake or a bulkhead at the point where a channel flow goes underground is very effective. The flowing water will help push your plug deeper into the pipe. (See Figure 1.)

6) These techniques are equally effective in urban, rural, and wild places.


1) Remember that if the company wants to get rid of the crap, it must be dan­gerous to your health. Always use waterproof gloves and eye protection. Wear old rain gear that you can affordably discard after each job. The following parts of your body should be protected on a job:

Eyes-wear goggles

Skin-wear gloves and maybe a rain jacket

Lungs-gas masks are usually unnecessary, but it is prudent to work quickly in order to reduce your risk

Feet-wear rubber boots.

Mouth-wear a bandanna over your mouth to prevent liquid droplets from splashing into your mouth, especially when working around sewage.

2) Be careful dealing with sewage discharges. They may contain harmful (to people) bacteria.

3) Sudden blockages of chemical plant cooling water intakes may result in dangerous conditions inside the plant. Block outfalls, not cooling water in­takes

4) Your plug may be stronger than some older concrete pipes. Plugging may cause bulkheads to collapse. Don't stick around.

5) Anchor cement is caustic and may burn your cuticles and sting in cuts. Always wash after using it.


Watch out for video cameras. Parallel chainlink fences spaced five feet or less apart may indicate that motion detectors are in use. Small microwave an­tennas may be motion detectors.

Discharge pipes are so common and lowly they are ignored by most security personnel. Unless guards are tipped off beforehand, pipes are often sitting ducks for the ecodefender.

Beware of leaving footprints in mud which is common around pipes.

For a fictional treatment of this kind of monkeywrenching, see Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller by Neal Stephenson (Atlantic Monthly Press Books, 1988). -Armand Hammer


Flush a mixture of dry plaster and sawdust in a nylon stocking down toilets in order to block the sewer systems of objectionable developments in wild ar­eas, such as ski resorts and National Park hotels.

Ocean front sewer pipes often have metal "tide gate" flaps to prevent sea­water from flooding the pipe during high tide. Lock it shut. Some tide gates al­ready have wing nut locking mechanisms. Use them.

Waste pond and waste ditch overflows are easily blocked because the wa­ter pressure is working in your favor. Fil! a sandbag(s) with mixed wet anchor cement and gravel, and stuff it in the upper end.

At many dumps and industrial sites you will find monitoring well caps. They are used to detect pollution underground. Do not touch them or you may en­danger a site cleanup.

Hydro Plant Flood Gates

The flood gates of many hydro plants are controlled by radio messages often sent from hundreds of miles away and transmitted by microwave stations. When opened, the river level below can rise ten feet or more in a minute or two and, of course, the river keeps rising so long as the gates are open or until the source of the water is exhausted. The source generally contains thousands of acre feet of water-sometimes enough to overflow or wash out a dam down­stream.

Modern technology generally renders the need for humans at the plants ob­solete. Consequently if one of the transmitters were destroyed it seems logi­cal to assume that a considerable amount of impounded water would be liber­ated before remedial action could be taken.

The transmitters are generally unguarded and amount to nothing much more than a large billboard (the type Doc Sarvis was well acquainted with).

Splashingly yours -Floyd Flood


The livestock industry has probably done more basic ecological damage to the western United States than has any other single agent. The Gray Wolf and Grizzly Bear have been exterminated throughout most of the West for stock­men (and Grizzlies are still being killed around Yellowstone National Park and the Rocky Mountain Front for sheep ranchers). Ranchers are the main threat to Gray Wolves naturally repopulating the Northern Rockies from Canada and the principal opposition to their reintroduction elsewhere in the West. The Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Black Bear, and Coyote have been relentlessly shot, trapped, and poisoned for and by ranchers such that lion and Bobcat popula­tions are shadows of their former numbers. Elk, Bighorn, Pronghorn, and Bi­son have had their numbers tragically reduced through the impacts of live­stock grazing. Streams and riparian vegetation have been degraded almost to the point of no return throughout much of the West. The grazing of cattle and sheep has drastically altered natural vegetative communities and has led to the introduction of non-native grasses palatable only to domestic livestock. Sheet and gully erosion from livestock grazing have swept away most of the topsoil in the West. In non-timbered areas, most "developments" on public lands-roads, fences, juniper chainings, windmills, pipelines, stock tanks, and the like-are for the benefit of only a few welfare ranchers. Vast areas of the Great Basin and Southwest could be designated as Wilderness were it not for the livestock industry. And throughout the West, public lands ranchers are the most vocal and militant lobby against environmental protection and Wilderness designation.

Nonetheless, conservationists have been slow to face the challenge from the livestock industry. So afraid have we been of their loud talk and pointy toed boots, that environmental groups have acquiesced in allowing ranchers motorized access in Wilderness Areas to "manage" their cows and sheep. Monkeywrenchers and others have shied away from fighting the ranchers be­cause of the Marlboro Man mystique.

Great care must be taken in selecting targets for ecotage against livestock grazing. Despite the negative aspects of the livestock industry, many ranch­ers are decent folks. They are trapped in a hopeless situation and are trying to do the best they can. In Montana and Wyoming, particularly, there are ranch­ers who support Wilderness, fight timber sales, oppose predator control, and have a deep and abiding respect for the land. Some of the best conservation­ists in the Northern Rockies are ranchers. Unfortunately, they are the excep­tion. But the monkeywrencher must make absolutely certain that the intended target of grazing ecotage fully deserves it. Thoughtful ecotage strategists ar­gue that suitable targets may include:

1) Vocal leaders of the phony "Wise Use" movement and other anti-public lands schemes;

2) Vocal opponents of Wilderness designation and other environmental pro­tection measures;

3) Notorious killers of Grizzlies, Gray Wolves, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Coyotes, prairie dogs, eagles, and other "varmints";

4) Poor land managers and egregious overgraziers;

   5) Overgraziers who operate in particularly sensitive areas (Wilderness Ar­eas, National Parks and Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, etc.).

Selective monkeywrenching against the worst ranchers will not only help eliminate the negative impacts of grazing from sensitive areas but will encour­age all ranchers to do a better job.

Security must be highly stressed for any anti-grazing activity. Although the actual number of welfare ranchers in the West is small, they generally control the politics of rural areas, most counties, and many states. Legal penalties are severe and date from the old days of the cattle/sheep wars and widespread rustling. A monkeywrencher caught in the act by stockmen may well wish he or she had never been born. Be careful. Damn careful!

Overgrazing is vulnerable to monkeywrenching for two reasons: 1) much of the worst overgrazing occurs in places remote, rugged, and seldom visited; and 2) some of the most damaging livestock operations are on a precarious fi­nancial basis where enough losses from ecotage can eliminate the grazing problem.

Operations by monkeywrenchers against overgrazing include the following:

1) Moving salt blocks;

2) Damaging water developments;

3) Cutting fences;

4) Spiking roads;

5) Destroying ranching equipment and machinery.

Road spiking and other techniques discussed elsewhere in this book have applications against overgraziers. Today's welfare rancher is soft and prefers a pickup truck to a horse. Take away his wheels and you take away his ac­cess to the range. Be creative.

Salt Blocks

Salt blocks are used to disperse livestock grazing. In arid areas, salt blocks are supposed to be placed several miles away from riparian areas and water sources in order to prevent the livestock from congregating and doing exces­sive damage in watered areas. Often, though, a hiker may discover salt blocks placed in canyon bottoms or near streams. Such placement of salt blocks leads to concentrated cattle use which severely damages the stream banks, the vegetation, and the aquatic ecosystem. (After cattle have been fenced out of dry, barren, former streams in Nevada, the streams have begun to flow year-round again; cottonwoods, willows, and other vegetation have sprung up; and fish have returned.) In earlier editions of Ecodefense, it was suggested that salt blocks in riparian areas be carried away and dropped miles from water. Doing this, however, simply moves the grazing damage elsewhere. Salt blocks should be made totally' inaccessible to livestock. Here are some suggestions, all of which have been tested:

-If it is feasible, and safe to do so, put blocks in your vehicle and carry them off to some place where cattle can't get to them.

-Stick them up in a tree where cattle can't reach them.

-Throw them into thick, sturdy brush or inaccessible rocky areas, over cliffs, into holes, under cattleguards, in road culverts, or anywhere cattle can't find them.

-Bury them deeply.

-Put them on the other side of fences. The cattle will either knock down the fence to get to the salt block, or not get to it.

-Throw them into a stock tank.

-Place them in a campground, picnic area, or resort area, so the public can experience the wonders of bovines up close.

Water Developments

In arid areas of the West, grazing is water-based. The amount of grazing possible in an area is determined by the availability of water. If there is no nat­ural, dependable water for miles in any direction, the area cannot be grazed. To remedy this problem, pipelines are constructed from water sources to drinking troughs for cattle. Windmills may also be drilled. Such developments are vulnerable to ecotage.

PIPELINES - These are of a variety of types, ranging from simple ones consisting of the ubiquitous black flexible PVC pipe, to more elaborate sys­tems using steel or aluminum pipe. Sometimes rigid PVC pipe is used as well, though this highly breakable pipe is uncommon in "range improvements." Pipelines may lead from springs, wells, or small dams to distant stock tanks. In some areas pipelines several miles long have been constructed (frequently at taxpayers' expense) to enable cows to graze in areas that could not other­wise support livestock. Sometimes these pipelines are buried, but usually large segments of them are above ground, especially in rocky country, thus vulnerable to monkeywrenching. The black PVC pipe can be cut with a pock­etknife, although carrying a small hatchet will make the job easier. Cutting a pipeline once may render it temporarily useless, but far better is to walk along it cutting it repeatedly. Rigid PVC pipe can easily be shattered with a large rock. Aluminum pipe can be punctured with a hammer and large nail, although a hammer and cold chisel would probably work better. The latter may also suf­fice for small steel pipelines; if not, it may be necessary to disassemble the pipe with a couple of pipe wrenches.

Unfortunately, PVC pipe is cheap and easy to replace. Even a dozen breaks in a line can be quickly found because of the leaking water, and re­paired in a few hours at relatively low cost.

Here's an improved, field-tested method for dealing with such water lines. This method can only be used when the pipe is not carrying water, such as when the cattle have been moved to another range. That's the safest time, anyway.

First, drill a small (1/8") hole in the pipe. Next, inject one of the urethane foam caulking compounds (like "Polycel"), commonly sold in hardware stores. This compound comes in an aerosol can with a very small nozzle. The com­pound expands to several times its original volume and forms a hard, tight plug in the pipe, completely blocking the pipe. The entire operation takes about two minutes. One plug will do the job, but it is best to do it at least twice at widely separated spots in the pipeline.

The only external evidence of the damage is the 1/8" hole plugged with the foam. Even if the rancher knew what to look for, finding this would require an inch-by-inch inspection of the pipe. To be safe, drill the hole in an inconspicu­ous location such as where the pipe is buried.

Remember the following tips:

1. Even when the pump is off, water will remain in the low-lying portions of the pipe. It may be best to go uphill and plug a dry section, but the procedure will work in water-filled pipes. (At least it works in a water-filled pipe up to 1.5" in diameter, the largest so far tried.)

2. The procedure will not work if water is flowing, because the foam is washed away before it sets. If you drill into such a pipe, don't just walk away. That little fountain coming from a drilled hole may give unnecessary clues to the rancher. Make your work look like an accident or simple vandalism by smashing that section of the pipe with rock or hammer.

3. Read the directions on the aerosol can. The can must be inverted to work-if it isn't, you'll just inject gas. Keep foam off clothing, skin, tools, etc. It's very sticky and will not dissolve in common solvents.

Fast and inconspicuous for you-slow and expensive for the Marlboro Man!

STOCK TANKS AND WATER TROUGHS - Previous editions of Ecodefense suggested puncturing stock tanks with a hammer and large nail. Punctures, though, are relatively easy to patch. It is better to gash thin-walled metal tanks with an ax or hatchet. Thick-walled tanks can be gashed with a cold chisel and large hammer. Make as long and ragged a gash as possible. Gashing right above the base is most effective and hardest to patch. Con­crete water troughs can be thoroughly smashed with a sledgehammer or with large rocks. You may think that shooting metal tanks full of holes during hunt­ing season is a good idea. This is not recommended. Ballistics tests may trace your spent bullets to your gun. There is also a serious danger in rico­chets; even a high-powered rifle won't penetrate thick-walled tanks.

Sometimes small drinking troughs will be fed from a large stock tank by means of a float valve, like the one in your toilet (See illustration.) Find the float valve. It is usually between the tank and the drinking trough, and covered by a removable hatch. Wire the float valve in the "up" position. When the water level in the drinking trough drops, the float will remain up and no more water will flow into the trough. Or, rip out the float mechanism and dispose of it.

Many metal tanks and concrete troughs are fed by pumps. These pumps can be damaged in a variety of ways, such as pouring abrasives in the oil.

WINDMILLS - The towers for most windmills are now made of steel mem­bers which are assembled on the spot using simple nuts and bolts. With enough time and the proper tools (a couple of crescent wrenches or maybe a socket set) a monkeywrencher could completely disassemble a tower. How­ever, there are less-laborious ways of putting windmills out of business.

Windmills generally have a mechanism (it may look like a small crank at­tached to a chain or cable) to stop the vanes from turning, and thus stop the sucker rods' up-and-down motion (this motion is what pumps the water out of the well). The sucker rods are usually made from several sections of steel pipe, or solid steel rods, threaded together.

An effective way to render a windmill inoperative is as follows:

  * Stop the motion of the windmill.

  * Using a couple of pipe wrenches, disassemble the sucker rods at a joint.

    * Draw the sucker rod out of the well casing until you come to another joint. The weight of the rod will depend on the depth of the well, but unless the well is deep, one or two people should be able do this.

     * Using the wrenches, remove the next section(s) of rod.

* Let the remaining sucker rod fall down into the well casing, where it will be difficult to retrieve. Note: it might be possible to cut the sucker rods with a hacksaw, if they are not too thick. This would probably be simpler.

Some monkeywrenchers shoot holes in the oil reservoirs on windmills to burn up the gears. They aim for the metal cover on the gearbox; oil dribbles out. If the vane is folded and the windmill is unable to turn, they pull up on the lever to open it up and hope for a good breeze. Because of additional criminal penal­ties attached to crimes where firearms are used, and pollution by the oil, mon­keywrenchers should be very reluctant to try this.

A windmill may also be pulled over by cutting support cable (if any), loosen­ing nuts at the base, and pulling it over with a come-along, winch, horse, or vehicle. Be careful of the falling tower!



Cutting Fence

Fences are what tamed the West for the livestock barons. They impede the movement of Elk, Pronghorn, deer, and other wildlife, as well as that of hikers. They destroy the open-space feeling of the land and give it a cow-pasture, pri­vate property look. Fences are the key management tool in making the range available to livestock grazing. Simply cutting fence will cause great disruption to our landed gentry. Fences are expensive. Some experts estimate that 100 people cutting fence on a regular basis around the West could put public land ranchers out of business. Fence cutting is easy and relatively safe.

The best tool for fence cutting is a "fence tool." It looks like a weird, over­grown pair of pliers and a good pair can be purchased for about $20 at most hardware stores. It can be used for hammering, twisting wire, pulling staples, and cutting wire. Most fences are constructed of barbed wire or net wire. A fencing tool will cut either with ease.

You should not just go out and cavalierly start cutting fence. Some fences protect the land. You do not want to cut a fence and allow cattle from over­grazed areas to enter an ungrazed area or one in relatively good condition. Never cut a fence separating an ungrazed National Park or National Wildlife Refuge from grazed National Forest, BLM, state, or private land. Do not cut fences in riparian areas (public lands agencies are actually trying, in some areas-against great rancher opposition in some cases, but with rancher support in others-to get cattle out of some sensitive riparian areas). It is dangerous to cut fence along highways. People die every year in the West from hitting cows in "open range" areas with their cars. Leave highway fences up. Think about the likely results before you cut. Some clever monkeywrenchers, however, cut fence to allow cattle to wander through campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation areas in order to outrage more people about the grazing of livestock on public land.

Cutting an old, rusty, run-down fence is often not worth the effort, as the fence is probably obsolete or due to be rebuilt soon anyway. Give priority to new, expensive-looking fences.

When you have selected suitable fencing to cut, pick your time carefully. Avoid hunting season. There are more people out in the field then (hunters and game wardens, of course, and ranchers to make sure that cows aren't shot). If possible, pick a season when the cattle or sheep have been moved to another pasture. A quarter moon night is good. So is bad weather. (Beware of light­ning-barbed wire fences can attract it.) Some experienced fence cutters be­lieve it is best to monkeywrench during daylight because it looks less suspi­cious, and because one can do a much quicker and more thorough job, with less risk of injury. When cutting fence, it is important to look like a cowboy; most folks other than ranchers have no idea what happens on a ranch and will simply think you're doing ranch work.

Walk along your carefully chosen fence in one direction, cutting as you go. Do not double back. You might find someone looking for you. Check behind yourself frequently. You are, after all, leaving a perfect trail. Binoculars are useful for watching your back trail. Beforehand you should select several possible escape routes. Look carefully ahead of you as well as behind you, as you cut. Once in a while STOP suddenly, be dead silent, and listen carefully. When you leave your fencing work, do not leave a trail that someone can follow back to your home, camp, or vehicle. Do not loiter. Do your work and leave.

You can cut a mile or more of fence in an hour once you get moving. Snip each strand of wire between posts but do not damage the posts. They will be needed for reconstruction of the fence later and will prevent other trees from being cut for fence posts. Give special attention to corner posts since they are integral to supporting the entire line of fence. All wire should be cut on support and corner posts, gates, cattle guards, and the like. Instead of cut­ting between each post, you also can randomly cut wire along a greater length of fence and probably still necessitate the complete restringing of the fence. Some experienced fence cutters cut strands only between every second or third post, but also vary their pattern. They believe this will cost more time and money in repair.

Caution: Barbed wire is usually strung under tension, so be careful when cut­ting it. When cutting, stand well to the side of the wire and cut strands next to the post. Do not hold on to the wire as previous editions of Ecodefense sug­gested. Fortunately, many public-lands ranchers are too lazy to keep their fences in good repair, so the wire is apt to be loose.

An experienced barbed wire fence repair person suggests that to do the most expensive damage to a fence, one should cut out one-foot sections be­tween posts. Throw the cut section away from the fence where it can't be easily found. To repair this kind of cutting requires three people and many pieces of wire. If enough one-foot sections are taken out, it will require the complete restringing of the fence.

Replacing cut fence is costly for the rancher. Two-point barbed wire costs about $80 for a quarter-mile spool. Cutting a mile of four-strand fence necessi­tates the replacement of $1280 of wire. Of course, the fence must be so cut up that it is not feasible to repair it by splicing cut ends back together.

Fence cutting is hard on your hands: Wear gloves to protect your hands and to avoid leaving fingerprints.

Ranching Equipment and Machinery

Most big ranches are heavily mechanized, with a variety of vehicles and equipment used in their daily operations. These include bulldozers, backhoes, tractors, heavy trucks (both for hauling equipment and cattle), and horse trail­ers. These vehicles are often parked around the ranch house, but when they are being used for particular projects (building a stock tank, say) they are apt to be left out in the boonies for a few days and nights. The usual techniques for disabling vehicles and heavy equipment can be applied to ranch equipment.


Public lands ranchers, no doubt aware of the indefensible nature of many of their practices, are hypersensitive about public criticism. For this reason any means of bringing their depredations to the attention of the public will have a twofold benefit-it will both educate the public and give the ranchers high blood pressure.

Recently in the Southwest the press reported an outbreak of sign alteration. Someone was using a stencil to modify those ubiquitous highway signs that warn the motorist of open range-the ones that show a big cow on a yellow background. (See section on "Stencils" in the Propaganda chapter.) They were adding to the signs messages like "Stop overgrazing," and "Get cows off the public lands." Needless to say, the ranching community was outraged. $500 rewards were offered for the perpetrators and serious penalties were threatened should they be apprehended.

If you live in a rural area and decide to try to rectify the abuses of overgraz­ing through monkeywrenching, it would probably be best to keep a low profile on other conservation issues and to avoid publicly criticizing the livestock in­dustry. Indeed, it may be wise not to engage in anti-grazing monkeywrenching in your home area at all.

-High Plains Drifter


* There has recently been a trend in some parts of the West for ranchers to install submersible electric pumps in wells, even in wells in remote areas with­out electric lines. Evidently the ranchers are using portable electric genera­tors to run the pumps-a pump is run long enough to fill a large stock tank; then the generator is removed. It may be difficult to remove the submersible pump from the well casing without special equipment (although if this can be done, it certainly would be effective). However, such wells do have vulnerable electrical wiring and circuit boxes on the surface. The circuit boxes can be smashed with a sledge or large rock; the wiring can be repeatedly cut with a fencing tool or bolt cutters.

* Smash apart feed and water troughs and salt block holders.

* Cut, smash, and pull apart corrals. Corrals are expensive to repair or re­place, and are necessary for ranching operations. Do the same to pens, chutes, loading ramps, stock scales, and other structures. They can also be burned. (Keep in mind that such use of fire constitutes arson and carries addi­tional penalties.)

* Some ecotage actions against livestock grazing are discouraged for vari­ous reasons. Poisoning cattle with oleander clippings should be avoided be­cause some species of grazing wildlife may also be vulnerable. The press re­cently reported that a champion racing Buffalo died after eating hay that had oleander leaves and stalks accidentally mixed in, for example. We do not know if Elk, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, or other wild critters would be poisoned by oleander clippings put out for cattle on public lands. In another case, 35 cattle in northern Utah died after eating clippings of English yew, an ornamen­tal widely planted around homes in that region. Again, we do not know if this plant is toxic to wildlife as well.

Some people have proposed simply shooting cattle. This is dangerous, would likely be counterproductive, and would carry severe penalties if the shooter were caught. More important, the lead bullet will remain in the cow car­cass. A critter that scavenges the meat may ingest that bullet and die of lead poisoning. California Condors have died after ingesting lead bullets in car­casses. If you must shoot, use only steel bullets.

Finally, we discourage the importation of diseases or disease-bearing para­sites into the Western open range. A recent newspaper article reported on the 60 cowboys employed by the Department of Agriculture to patrol the Rio Grande from its mouth to Amistad Dam to keep out Mexican cattle. The Mexi­can cows are infested with ticks that carry a disease organism causing so­-called Texas fever or cattle fever. The article reported that if the cattle fever tick became established in the United States, it could cause $5 billion worth of damage a year to the cattle industry. Besides the possible biological dangers, trying to smuggle these ticks across the border to the public lands grazing states would be personally dangerous and would be counterproductive.

*A few thoughts on public lands grazing strategy: Every BLM grazing dis­trict has several large ranches on the edge of bankruptcy, despite recent high beef prices. These ranches can be determined by speaking discretely with the BLM, real estate agencies, or by examining county tax delinquency records. These ranches almost certainly are destroying riparian areas, wildlife winter range, and/or recreational resources. The public should be made aware of the destruction and the ranch should be mentioned by name and linked with the de­teriorated condition. Try letters to the editor, TV reports, or tours for newspa­per reporters.

The object is to make potential buyers aware of the actual value of the ranch. This will have the effect of lowering the value of the ranch to reflect its real worth and should reduce inflated bank borrowing power. A few large ranches revalued to actual worth will have a chilling effect on the local market. Enough local market exposures will have an effect throughout the West.

Cautionary Notes About

Monkeywrenching Grazing

Random sabotage of range "improvements" may do more harm than good. Study the target area before taking action against:

'l Windmills and Water Tanks. These water developments concentrate cattle in their vicinity and may actually prevent livestock from abusing more remote areas. Severe overgrazing, bare dirt, and trampling usually indicate the pres­ence of water facilities. Only the most remote water developments should even be considered as potential targets, and only if alternative sources of nat­ural water are available to wildlife.

* Fences. Casual fence-cutting will make you a best friend of the "trespass" grazier, the worst abuser of public lands. These greedy stockmen will cut fences and leave gates open to allow their stock to "innocently" wander onto lands where they are not legally permitted. If you know a stretch of fence that routinely entangles and kills wildlife, observe the following procedures: To pro­tect deer, cut the second wire from the top. Deer are killed when their hind leg doesn't clear the top wire and becomes twisted between the top two strands. A twelve to eighteen inch spacing between the top wires prevents this problem. If antelope are trapped (a winter problem) cut the bottom wire to allow the ani­mals to crawl under.

* Overgrazing. There is plenty of worthwhile overgrazed land around, so limit your hits to these most abused areas. Educate yourself in the rudiments of range management so you can learn to recognize the symptoms. Know about the succession from grass to brush to trees. Learn to recognize snake­weed, greasewood, and other plants that are indicators of overgrazing. Train yourself to recognize the early signs of soil erosion as well as the more severe arroyo-cutting. Also, know which grasses and shrubs the livestock consume so you can tell at a glance if they're gnawing them down to nothing.

Because ranchers in some areas have become suspicious of animal rights saboteurs hitting their range improvements, make sure you're equipped with leather boots, canned meat (if you're a vegetarian, you can always give it to a panhandler later), and some Outdoor Life magazines in case some suspicious cowpokes insist on poking around your camp or car.

-T O. Hellenbach


Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 4

Direct Action