Nick Turner and Matt Wilson’s first book, Montana Surf, pools the evidence of the authors’ adventures kayaking the most difficult whitewater in and around Montana. And while most of the material is reported firsthand, the book also includes accounts offered by a group calling itself the Yellowstone Liberation Army.
“The following description was delivered in an unmarked envelope with a return address that read ‘Yellowstone Liberation Army’,” Turner and Wilson write, before describing a pair of illegal trips down the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.
The park’s ban on whitewater boating is an old controversy, and the views offered by Turner and Wilson clearly try to reinvigorate the debate. Especially now as the Park Service continues to increase the number of snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone.
The YLA-related content reads like an inside joke as it supplies thin cover for the true source of the information: Turner and Wilson. The ruse is so transparent that following the book’s publication in 2001, Turner got a call from someone describing himself as an investigator for the Park Service. He wanted to know who was really behind statements like this, which are attributed to the YLA: “[The Park Service’s] stance on the issue is firm and unchanging. So in respect to the park we are only left with one alternative—poach that shit.”
When asked what she knows about the YLA, park spokesperson Marsha Karle laughs. She says the group might be the first make-believe organization ever to cause a stir in the park. “We certainly don’t approve or appreciate that they’re advertising that these are great whitewater runs,” says Karle, who doesn’t see any irony in the park banning non-motorized kayaks while it welcomes more and more exhaust-spewing snowmobiles. Her explanation: “We try to consider what’s best for the resource.”
Mark Twain once said, “Whiskey’s for drinking; water’s for fighting over.” Now, the CIA is jumping on Twain’s bandwagon.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that CIA analysts believe that environmental challenges will be the greatest menace to our national security in the 21st century—more bothersome than Osama or Saddam.
In the future, wars will be fought over water, not oil, CIA analysts say. Meanwhile, the Stockholm Water Symposium, a panel of international resource experts, came to a consensus conclusion that “by the year 2025, as much as two-thirds of the world’s population will be living with water shortages or absolute water scarcity.” Therefore, the group concluded, what we do with the water we currently have is a matter of the utmost importance.
Dubya Bush sure has a funny way of protecting our highest-valued gift. The National Resources Defense Council notes that since being elected, Bush has rolled back the Clean Water Act’s water cleanup program, delayed hard rock mining regulations that protect watersheds, put forth a budget cutting the EPA’s staff by 8 percent, and proposed to exempt seasonal streams and millions of acres of wetlands from Clean Water Act protections. And that’s just the tip of the murky iceberg.
The CIA isn’t known for being an environmentally-minded organization, but if the agency’s latest statement is an indication that the times they are a-changin’, then perhaps it isn’t entirely far-fetched to imagine Bush, for a change, atop the intelligence community’s most wanted list.