As a sometimes cross-country ski racer and mountain biker who occasionally dons lycra, I must say that I think T.M. Power misses the point when he examines the "caustic humor" that traditional Westerners seem to have for the newly arrived urban "services' people (HCN, 5/2/94).
Ranchers, loggers and miners produce real goods which service people consume. The anger which creates the caustic humor is not from how we dress or act, but from the imposition of our urban values on a primarily agricultural society. The problem is that we urban folks are telling the locals they must give up their occupations. Without their occupations, of course, everything else in their life collapses.
As a not-so-recent urban migrant (I came to the West from Boston 38 years ago), I can tell you from long observation that urban people are really not very interested in getting to know old-time residents. Most people in Vail and Aspen, for instance, don't have a clue as to how a working ranch really operates.
When the Walmarts and the City Markets arrive, pushing out small business owners that have dedicated their lives to the communities they live in, the people have a right to be upset. When people with lots of money and not much time carve up the hay meadows, destroying their agricultural productivity and leaving nothing but ostentatious displays of conspicuous expenditure to mess up the landscape, local people have a right to be upset.
Mark Rey, a forest industry spokesman, said it very nicely. "We (the resource dependent communities) are committed, the administration (and the new urban migrants) are merely involved. That difference is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, the pig is committed."
When you are out here in the rural West long enough, and you have a chance to compare what was here with what is coming, you begin to appreciate the "Old West."
The local folks may joke about our lifestyles but they do not threaten us. On the other hand we, in our condescending and sometimes ill-informed arrogance, have made very concerted efforts to destroy them in the name of "reform."
There are 280 million people out there across America, with cars and toys and trash, looking for a place a play. We have a broke federal government that is reducing, not increasing, its Forest Service and BLM personnel. Who is going to manage the situation? The fastest way we can destroy the environment in the West is to destroy the existing rural infrastructure, and that's exactly what we are doing.
Roger C. Brown
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