Essays

Public land is the essence of freedom
Public land is the essence of freedom
A hunter reflects on the gut-level connection she has to the public land she traverses.
Coal. Guns. Freedom?
Coal. Guns. Freedom?
How the Trump administration has seized mythologies around coal.
Close encounters with a scary fire season
Close encounters with a scary fire season
As wildfires have ripped through the West, take stock of what climate change has wrought.
How to remedy overgrazing
This reader, for one, does not agree with HCN's analysis of why overgrazing has occurred and the proper course for resolving its tragic environmental legacy.
Ickes, Part II: 'So long as I am Secretary ...'
Harold L. Ickes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, once described himself to a congressional committee as being "as hard-boiled a conservationist as there is in this country."
Metamorphosis at the Forest Service
The Forest Service is becoming experienced in listening to messages it would not have chosen to hear a few years ago.
Ickes, Part I: Interior's noisy reformer
If life were intended to be simple, God would not have invented Harold L. Ickes, Franklin D, Roosevelt's spiky Secretary of the Interior, who was not one man, but several.
Strange tales along the Powwow Highway
We are dying today in droves while liberal Americans profit in the billion-dollar-a-year New Age industry, which sells overpriced and artificial Thunderbird shields and sexy doeskin dresses to bored, rich cosmopolitans.
We must stop devouring the West
We are blessed with an astounding base of natural assets: clean air, good water, open land and the many sturdy folk who live here. But instead of feeding, repairing and taking care of these natural assets, we have been running them down in a way that would destroy any automobile or business in very little time.
Sitting out the Greed Decade in Wyoming
The workers who came to Wyoming in the 1970s to make unmentionable riches throwing chain on oil rigs are now working at minimum wage "service" jobs in the toadying tourism industry.
Forestry newspeak prevents us from seeing the ecosystem
Terminology has a big influence on our way of thinking and the way we perceive issues. It also affects the way we allot funds for public lands.
Sacred places: The West's new, booming extractive industry
No place is safe from nature-loving Baby Boomers, essayist says.
Former ranger wishes he had raised hell earlier
"What I didn't know about then was the peculiar world of bureaucracy. It thinks even nature must bend to what bureaucrats decide is best."
You knew where James McClure stood
Even as McClure stood firm on his values, he tried to work with his adversaries, and for that reason he was effective on many issues.
Wyoming isn't California or Detroit, and thank heaven
Those of us who are still here -- the survivors in the wake of the Bust -- share a bond we may not realize: We have paid a price to be able to remain.
Must the West's air become an opaque shroud?
Most of the region's needs, including protection of its scenic grandeur from regional haze, acid pollution damage to high country lakes and streams, and urban carbon monoxide and particulate pollution, draw little attention in Washington.
Public lands policy is an intellectual wilderness
Once, when America was young, we knew why we had public lands. Now that America is mature, few of us even know we have them.
What happens when trespassing mink meet retreating geese?
The notion of the physical world as a web of interrelationships, of interpenetration and interdependency, is not at all congenial to the theory of property.
Outdoor educators must stop playing it safe
My theories of education begin with the principle that learning derives from life, all of life, as an unending process from birth to death.
The West mourns Abbey's death
Writer Edward Abbey's sudden death on March 14th left the nation's environmental movement and lovers of wild and untrammeled land everywhere stunned and grieving.
If everything else fails, we may behave wisely
The West was saved from the wrath of the energy industry by the genius of a free market, even though that market was far from perfect.
Here's a chance to win back the West's rivers
The war for surface water in the intermountain West will likely be won or lost in battles before a single federal agency -- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Wallace Stegner: The transcendent Western writer
The geographic removal of Stegner from the inland Western landscape he helps us see says a great deal about the past state of this region. But we do not yet know whether the forces that led him out of the region are artifacts or persisting conditions.