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.


Environmental sophistry imperils the West
Several years ago, environmental organizations in Wyoming chose to begin making compromises. Slowly, inexorably, they are losing whatever it is they love.
Reagan budget hits Indian self-sufficiency
President Reagan's proposed budget would allot more taxpayer dollars to Indian reservations but also impair the tribes' efforts to gain control over energy development on reservations, undermining Indian tribes' efforts to become more self-sufficient.
'Ecotage' seeks wild ends but won't make friends
No philosophical or psychological rationale speaks to the effectiveness of ecotage, Politically, what made sense for the Sixties activists is unlikely to work for wilderness advocates in the Eighties.
Earth First! says it's time to be tough
Editor Dan Whipple examines and critiques the roots and new tactics of the radical environmental group Earth First!
Conservation? Let's go for the real thing
A conservation director for the Sierra Club distinguishes between "real" and "pseudo-" conservation.
Who are the real 'extremists' in fight over wilderness?
Are they the Wilderness advocates who give freely from their lives to save the last remnants of American Wilderness? Or are they the protesters who flex every political muscle to prevent any more Wilderness and are now hoping to violate already-designated Wilderness.
Business-as-usual politics spurs new dam foes
Some conservative Western senators are unexpectedly calling for cuts to federal water project spending -- and environmentalists should cooperate by not fighting the few water projects that might have some redeeming value.
The Sagebrush Rebellion: Misdirected dynamite
The real danger of the Sagebrush Rebellion is not that the federal lands will be taken over but that the deep sentiments aroused by the effort will drive a wedge between agricultural and environmental interests.
Hail and farewell! 1979
A Holiday season ode to the West's environmental issues of 1979: "It's time for reviewing the year first to last: // A remembrance of two dozen deadlines past. // Water and wilderness, endangered species, // Oil, Alaska, railroads and coal leases;"
Fish and Wildlife Service: growth and contradiction
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, charged with protecting birds, beasts, and fish, has serious internal problems, such as applying tons of harmful pesticides to the lands it manages.
1973's fresh thinking has decayed
We have had more than five years since the Arab oil embargo to prepare for the next shortfall in gasoline supply. What have we accomplished as a result of our unhappy experience in 1973-74? Nothing.
Forest Service secrecy serves only confusion
Now that the Forest Service has entered its "evaluation" phase of the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II), it intends to keep its workings a secret until the final environmental impact statement is completed.
Western passenger train service should continue
We are glad to see that Congress is responding to its Western contingent by continuing Amtrak passenger train service until at least Oct. 1, 1979. This may allow enough time for the Department of Transportation to realize that cutting Amtrak routes is a bad idea.
American mania for self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency is an idea that has done more harm than good. On close examination it is flawed at the root. More importantly, it works badly in practice.
Dealing with environmental backlash: a proposal
A new term has cropped up on the political scene recently -- "environmental backlash." The same people who are warning about environmental backlash are the same people who seem to be against effective environmental protection in the first place.
Cutler: wilderness areas don't have to be pristine, virgin
In the second of a two-part series, Dave Foreman responds to the argument that over-eager conservationists degrade the wilderness system by fighting to include inferior areas in it.
Clean Air Act: making it work for you
With the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments, much of the burden -- and potential for protecting air -- is shifted to states and Indian tribes.
Are we degrading the Wilderness System?
In the first of a two-part series, Dave Foreman responds to the argument that over-eager conservationists degrade the wilderness system by fighting to include inferior areas in it.
Water won't stretch for Western cities' growth
Recent cases -- in which public agencies decided that cities would not get what they demand at the expense of other resources -- indicate that cities in the West are gradually being forced to accept the limits that lack of water will impose.
Flow reservations -- water under the bridge?
A flow reservation -- water which must be left in the river -- cannot override the water rights of a rancher, even if the stream is over-appropriated, but it can compete with future industrial water demands.