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Wise Use Movement

  • By: James McCarthy
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The Wise Use movement was a coalition of broadly antienvironmental and antifederal organizations and political movements active in the United States from roughly the late 1980s through the late 1990s. The term wise use was strategically borrowed from Progressive-era conservationists, for whom it functioned very much like sustainable development, in both its ambiguity and its emphasis. The Wise Use movement had three wings. The first, based in the rural West, centered on efforts by rural commodity producers to maintain their historical, privileged access to many public lands in the region for production. The second, the property rights movement, argued that governmental regulations affecting private property constituted a legal “taking” of a portion of that property, for which owners should be compensated. The third, centered ...

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