Items by Ray Ring

Tractor politicking
High Country News talks to Dennis McDonald, the Montana rancher who also leads the state’s Democratic Party.
‘Men standing in the shadows began to weep’
Writers John N. Maclean and Mark Matthews look closely at two famous – and deadly – Western wildfires in their new books, The Thirtymile Fire and A Great Day to Fight Fire.
Just put an asterisk on the whole region
How do we Westerners love our drugs? Let Ray Ring count the ways.
Guns R Us
Westerners have always been deeply in love with their firearms, and gun-shop owners like Ryan Horsley are determined to make sure that nothing comes between them
Video Interview: Ryan Horsley
Ryan Horsley talks about Red's Trading Post: its history, his troubles with the ATF, and why he doesn't sell machine guns
An alphabetical speed-load of state-by-state gun facts
The West’s gun laws are an unbelievable hodgepodge, but in general the region is very friendly toward firearms
Fatalities in the energy fields: 2000-2006
At least 89 people died in the energy fields of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming during the last six years
Disposable workers of the oil and gas fields
Disposable workers of the oil and gas fields
Without a college degree, work on the oil and gas fields is the best job you can get in the rural West – unless, of course, it kills you
Election Roundup
Ray Ring offers a state-by-state summary of some of the more intriguing election results across the West
The West: A New Center of Power
The West gains traction as a center of power in 2006, and nine more indicators from the midterm elections.
Brave 'yellowbellies' served the West well
In Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line, Mark Matthews tells the story of the conscientious objectors who pioneered smokejumping to fight Western forest fires during World War II
News from the gas fields
Roughneck is a two-year-old monthly devoted to covering the oil and gas industry in Sublette County, Wyoming
Will Montanans reject their bagman?
Even Montanans critical of Sen. Conrad Burns admit he’s a genius at bringing home the pork – a fact that may make it harder for his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, in the November election.
Fractures on the right
National pundits say the nation’s political parties are moving toward the extremes, but in the West, Republicans – unhappy with some far-right politicians – seem to be heading back to the middle.
'I call (regulations) land stealing ...'
Dorothy English weighs in on the pros – and cons – of Oregon’s Measure 37
Taking Liberties
The Western states are home to a stealth campaign by libertarians who – under the guise of reforming eminent domain – are out to destroy all land-use planning through "takings" ballot initiatives
Stealth campaigns threaten our democracy
The writer says stealth libertarian campaigns seek to hamstring government
'I hope other states don't do this ...'
Renee Ross weighs in on the pros – and cons – of Oregon’s Measure 37
'Great recreation value ... and great economic value...'
Jim Miller weighs in on the pros – and cons – of Oregon’s Measure 37
Takings campaigns around the West
A detailed graph sums up the status of the current "takings’ initiative campaigns in six Western states
'I kick myself for being so naive...'
Ted Schroeder weighs in on the pros – and cons – of Oregon’s Measure 37
'It's clear out of control ...'
Bill Roses weigh in on the pros – and cons – of Oregon’s Measure 37
Magic Valley Uprising
An unusual grassroots coalition of citizen activists stops a coal-fired merchant power plant from being built in Idaho’s Magic Valley
The push is on for 'clean coal'
Led by California, Western states are encouraging the energy industry to move toward cleaner coal technology
Meet Idaho's Revolutionaries
In their own words, some of the Magic Valley citizens who fought the Sempra coal plant describe the uprising and how they got involved in it
Stargazer aims his scopes at gas industry
Astronomer Perry Walker uses his stargazing tools and skills to work with the oil and gas industry to prevent air pollution in Wyoming
President Bush nailed it: Our real addiction is to oil
The writer figures that the oil and gas industry wants marijuana to be legal
Snowy middle ground
Wilderness advocates and snowmobile enthusiasts are working together in Montana to find enough room in the landscape to accommodate both their passions
Hunters could free Yellowstone bison
The writer decries the state-sponsored slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison and calls on hunters to get political
Urban planning — with a wild touch
Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers and Citizens and Nature-Friendly Communties are two new handbooks on innovative land-use planning and habitat protection