Humility is the heart of park's approach

  Dear HCN,

One of the few things Greg Hanscom got right in his article on Yellowstone's Northern Range (HCN, 9/15/97) is that politics is running the show, and that "range managers, wise-users and Republican lawmakers are all ears' for any criticism of natural regulation.

Unfortunately, he fell into the critics' trap and declared them the debate winners by default. He sure gave short shrift to the scientific arguments presented in the Park Service's report, Yellowstone's Northern Range: Complexity & Change in a Wildland Ecosystem. There is, after all, evidence supporting natural regulation. That evidence deserves more attention and respect than High Country News gave it.

In any case, the heart of the matter is not that natural regulation is merely ideological while the active management pushed by Alston Chase, Fred Wagner and Charles Kay is objectively true and scientific - as the latter claim. All you have to do is read what the latter have written about Yellowstone to understand that they are no less ideological, no less likely to manipulate science for their own purposes, than are supporters of natural regulation.

The critics' problem with natural regulation is not so much that it doesn't work, which is something we can all argue over at an ecological level, but that it acknowledges our ultimate inability to control the environment. Furthermore, natural regulation acknowledges that producing economic commodities for human profit isn't the only purpose of the land. Natural regulation has an ethical, noneconomic component the active managers and their supporters in the commodities industries can't abide.

It would be nice if we could stick with science, but science is not the issue in Yellowstone. If those of us who love Yellowstone fail to understand that, we'll certainly lose what we love.

Robert Hoskins

Casper, Wyoming