Jonathan Brinckman's profile of Senate hopeful Walt Minnick is written with the arrogance that all too often portrays people of the land as part of the problem but ignores very real problems created by growth in the West (HCN, 9/30/96).
Consider his thesis: Those in Idaho who care about the environment are battling "traditional extractive industries' over preserving the state's beauty. Does it occur to Brinckman that thousands of "old industry" families had been keeping Idaho a beautiful place 100 years before 300,000 suburbanites discovered it? And that these were driven from Southern California not by "old West" industries, but by urban sprawl?
Every well-read person knows the damage done by resource industries early this century. These industries have had to change, however, and learn to practice long-term management. Some advances are credited to non-rural people who took time to understand and learn about the land. This doesn't include your author, who lumps all that he doesn't understand into the phrase, "extractive industries," a term he uses like a Western city uses water.
The West's real threat - urban sprawl - has made no similar progress. Poor grazing or logging methods can be corrected, but a subdivision is forever. The same family may farm one quarter in the Snake River Valley for five generations, but a developer destroys almost all natural life on every parcel he touches.
I think it's easier to blame others for not progressing quickly enough than to admit you have no solutions. I have come to expect a more balanced treatment of issues from HCN.
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