The political environmentalism of the past 35 years was born of necessity: business as usual was not protecting the air, water and land. Brent Haglund and Thomas Still believe that the regulatory actions of the 1960s and 1970s were essential medicine for a careless society. But over time, the cure became something of a disease itself, a command-and-control system that widened the gulf between people and the natural world they live in.
Writing for those who want to move past the environmental nanny state and reach the next level of stewardship, Haglund and Still describe a “civic environmentalism” based on local control, personal responsibility, government accountability and economic opportunity. They offer success stories demonstrating that civic environmentalism works. In Louisiana, private landowners formed the Black Bear Conservation Committee to restore the black bear from near extinction while avoiding an endangered species designation that would have constricted property rights. In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache tribe uses income from hunting licenses to fund an innovative wildlife management program that fosters economic development. In Wisconsin, the last dam was removed from the Baraboo River after the River Alliance brought landowners and governmental agencies together to promote change without polarizing lawsuits. Hands-On Environmentalism shows how to find voluntary, enduring solutions to environmental problems apart from heavy-handed governmental intervention.