There's another approach possible in Silver City, N.M.

  Dear HCN,

I was disappointed in a recent article about Silver City, N.M.: "A Struggle for the Last Grass' by Tony Davis, May 2. Mr. Davis interviewed my husband and some of my friends. He asked questions which indicated he might be looking only for conflict, not for ways problems were being solved. I don't necessarily question his facts. We've been aware of these problems for years.

What I question is your making Susan Schock some kind of heroine. "Gila Watch ... has fought both a fourth-generation rancher and a federal agency to a standstill over the fate of the wilderness."

A lot of time and money and press has gone into a fight in which no one is getting anywhere except scared and angry. I really question the goal here. I don't see Susan offering solutions. The conflict in the press is being drawn as Coalition of Counties ranchers who want title to everything vs. environmentalists who want cows off the public lands now and forever. Great: Let's all go to war.

Friends of the Gila River worked for years to get a Gila River plan. Without the plan it's harder to fight cows on the riparian areas here, and it is on the riparian that most threatened and endangered species depend. I want to see something change, not just be on the moral high ground, and there is a lot about small human communities around here that I value and would like to save. There are a lot of ranching folks who are fine people and who care about the land, even if they aren't aware always of the damage that is happening to it. It's from our strengths as a community that we are going to find enduring answers.

If we don't get down to being committed to looking for some kind of win-win solutions for which we can get cooperation, we've got nothing. I don't want to see ranchers sell off to developers, and that could be one of their only choices. I don't see tourism or development as any option for nature.

I don't much like being yelled at in meetings or bad-mouthed around town. So how about we start acting like grownups and treating each other the way we want to be treated? If the world were only made up of folks treating people like Susan Schock does, or ranchers willing to shoot somebody to make a point, well, I'd be happy to kiss off the human race. Nature will survive us, in geological time. Somehow, I doubt we humans will be a part of that future if we don't learn something new soon.

Nena MacDonald

Gila, New Mexico