Items by Ray Ring

Westerners share a different reality
A "time" magazine column about satellite radio that described the New Jersey Turnpike as "the middle of nowhere" provides unintentional humor to Westerners who know the real meaning of nowhere.
Greens join 'Let's derail a judge' game
Environmentalists adopt the conservative strategy of working to derail the nomination of federal judges whom they fear could harm their cause.
Cheney picks former aide to oversee parks, BLM,wildlife
The Bush administration picks Wyoming resident Paul Hoffman to run the BLM as assistant secretary of the Interior for fish, wildlife and parks.
Judge puts kibosh on logging plan
A federal judge rules that the Burn Area Recovery Plan, which would log Montana's Bitterroot National Forest, must be put on hold until the Forest Service gives the public a chance to appeal.
How to influence Congress on just dollars a day
Activist Ray Wheeler sets an intense pace as he personally lobbies in D.C. for wilderness preservation in Utah.
Ranchers' group adopts practical strategy
The Northern Plains Resource Council is unique among Montana environmental groups in that it was founded by cattle ranchers, who still make up half the membership.
'We better start moving ahead'
In his own words, Libby, Mont., accountant Wayne Hirst talks about how Montana environmentalists went wrong.
'We don't rest ... on economics'
In his own words, activist Bob Decker talks about Montana's environmental groups and the struggle they face in their state.
Bad moon rising
Back in the '70s, Montana led the way in progressive environmental legislation, but now with its economy faltering, those laws are being eviscerated, and environmentalists need to find a new strategy.
In the heart of the New West, the sheep win one
The Hispanic livestock cooperative, Ganados del Valle, wins a lawsuit against the Sierra Club Foundation in New Mexico's Chama Valley.
Ranchers sour on Canadian gas plant
Alberta, Canada, ranchers are frustrated by the government's lack of oversight of the proliferating sour-gas plants that some say harm health and livestock.
Saving the Platte
Environmentalists, farmers and state and federal agencies try to find some kind of consensus even as each reaches for a share of the overused Platte River as it flows from Colorado, through Wyoming and across Nebraska.
A radical approach to mine reclamation
The Sunnyside Mine near Silverton, Colo., is an unusual example of a community working together with miners and environmentalists to find a strategy to heal the damage.
Can tailings piles be historic artifacts?
Some say the often-picturesque ruins of mining create a historical landscape that has value whether there is pollution or not.
Summitville: an expensive lesson
The story of Colorado's Summitville Mine is a story of spectacular failures.
Turning the Old West into the New West
The old mining town of Anaconda, Mont., has turned a mine dump into a designer golf course.
A few plants love mine waste
Plant physiologist Ray Brown works to help mining-damaged ecosystems recover - with the help of a few hardy plant species.
This heavy-metal collection includes a shovel that dug the Panama Canal
Lloyd Harkins, who spent his early years working in Montana mines, now devotes himself to salvaging and collecting the industrial paraphernalia of hardrock mining, from ore cars to a 78-ft. tall head frame.
After the gold rush
The reclamation of Montana's hardrock mines will cost billions, and is complicated by the fact that no one really knows how to do it, or who should foot the bill.
Jell-O and suicides
A look at odd statistics in the West includes a few surprises.
If a town is more dead than alive, it's the Old West
Musing on the gravestones in Anaconda, Mont., a writer theorizes that one can tell whether a town is Old West or New West by the ratio of the buried to the currently alive inhabitants.
Chet Huntley's legacy includes suppression of a free press
The preferential treatment Big Sky gives the pro-resort Lone Peak Lookout over the independent Big Sky Bugle is an ironic legacy for a hard-hitting journalist like Chet Huntley to leave.
Armies of skiers are coming to Yellowstone
Seven ski resorts ring Yellowstone National Park and add to the pressure on a fragile ecosystem.
Touring the future on Insta-Teller Road
A computerized key-pad locked road in Big Sky epitomizes a ski resort where the "haves" are carefully kept from the trespassing "have nots."
How Huntley sold Big Sky to Montana
Big Sky founding father and famous TV newsman Chet Huntley started the resort but did not live to see what he created.
Big Sky above, private land below
Former Big Sky ski patrolman J.C. Knaub in his own words describes the difficulties faced in trying to bring neighborhood parks and trails to Big Sky.
Big Sky, big mess in Montana
A Montana ski resort originally created by newsman Chet Huntley and intended to be a model of free-market, unconstrained development, is today a morass of lawsuits, environmental degradation and inefficiency.
The bigger the mine, the better the deal
Land swaps, like the one planned to save land near Yellowstone National Park from mining, are a bad habit with a bad history in Montana's national forests.
He stuffs what they kill
Taxidermist John Stevenson discovers the art and craft of taxidermy.
Unarmed but dangerous critics close in on hunting
Hunting in the West faces public relations problems as well as questions about ethical and biological issues.