Writers on the Range


Writers on the Range is opinion from the ground up. Got a beef with beef? An experience that changed your mind about the American West? Writers from the region tell their story in 750 words. Op eds are syndicated to 50-plus papers, and they also appear here, on the HCN website. For more information, contact Writers on the Range editor, Betsy Marston: betsym at hcn.org.


The life and death of Rocky Mountain towns
Sadly for both the towns and for progressive editors, the times are changing much faster in these towns than the local cultures. It is highly unlikely that these cultures can adapt, even though their survival is at stake.
How will Indians use their water?
The only way the Indian tribes can guarantee posterity is to protect and preserve their lands from despoliation, which will require conservation of their water resources.
A BLM employee's cry of rage
Sometimes it seems that the BLM purposely chooses the worst possible field management, or no management whatsoever, in an attempt to attract public attention.
1080 may hasten the sheep industry's death
If compound 1080 again comes into wide use, the inevitable abuses that will follow could mean the end of livestock grazing on public lands.
Can wilderness be saved from Vibram soles?
Trends in visitor use, lackadaisical management, shoestring funding levels and political motivations have all contributed to a failure to control overuse.
Grand Junction ran a high gold fever
The people living through western Colorado's energy boom and bust over the last five years are still bewildered. Most say it was a period of heady euphoria followed by thousands of personal tragedies that stunned the region.
Indians and environmentalists drift apart
The Navajo Tribe's decision to build another mammoth coal-fired plant in the Four Corners area is a hard blow to what has been a natural alliance.
A proposed 35-million-acre land swap is shrouded in confusion
Some conservationists think the land swap is designed to benefit mining and drilling companies. But industry, perhaps because it's been burned by earlier administration initiatives, is not speaking strongly in support.
Forest Service survives very well
The Bridger-Teton National Forest personnel is fairly and competently administering this forest according to the will of the people, as expressed by the Congress of the United States.
What do environmentalists really want?
What this one wants is to live in a time when no one feels the need to use the word "environmentalist."
What do environmentalists really want?
After working as a professional environmentalist for over ten years, I have come to the conclusion that environmentalists don't know what they want. They certainly know what they don't want, but what they think they want instead often turns out to be worse than what they've got.
Can the Forest Service survive?
Several months ago, we asked: Can the Forest Service be reformed? Now, after seeing that the agency can't even get along with the Wyoming delegation, we ask: Can the Forest Service survive?
What do environmentalists really want?
I believe that conservationists -- and other public lands users -- can and should pay their fair share.
The rancher-environmentalist feuding should end
I ask my fellow environmentalists to think and investigate before they make sweeping condemnations of ranchers; and ranchers to be similarly understanding with environmentalists. We have much more in common that most of us know.
A critic profanes the West's water gospel
Does it make sense for Colorado to develop its legal entitlement of the waters of the Colorado River to grow low-value crops like alfalfa? The federal investment in the Animas-La Plata would be over a million dollars per farm. Can such an investment rationally be justified?
Kootenai Falls decision is different
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge makes a startling decision to reject Montana's Kootenai Falls Project in favor of preserving the falls in their natural state.
Taking the broad geographical view
Tom Bell reflects on HCN's move from Lander, Wyo. to Paonia, Colo., saying that HCN is a useful voice, still needed, wherever it's situated.
Yoo-hooing our way to decline
Especially in the West -- where independence and conservatism are an authentic part of the regional consciousness -- we all understand the hypocritical and ultimately destructive nature of the cargo cult and pork barrel approaches. But we have been able to pretend we do not really understand what is happening.
Can the Forest Service be reformed?
We have followed the agency for a decade. The sum total of the positive, constructive things we can say is that there are good people out in the field. And some of them have the courage and ingenuity to do good work despite their superiors.
The EPA now trades lives for jobs
EPA head William Ruckelshaus has repeatedly sounded the theme that the agency needs more flexibility to carry out its mission.