Share your thoughts and images of the West!

Check out upcoming contest topics, and submit your essay(s) or photo(s) for others to enjoy. Viewers can vote on their favorite essays and images, and entries with the most votes will be featured on the Web site, and earn consideration from our editorial and production staff for appearing in the magazine!

The West is not just about the varied terrain in which we live, but the collection of perspectives and realities of the people who occupy this inspiring land. Add your voice to High Country News – or enjoy those of other readers – and embrace your community of fellow people who care about the West.

this is an essay entry in:

How High Country News informs and inspires me view contest page »

finishedThis contest has ended.

A Musing West

by Jedicookiemonster — Mar 28, 2010
0

With small town lifestyles people tend to be more helpful, and oppinionated. HCN provides a foundation for greater understanding.

Unlike all the other sources of news text remains mightiest. In-depth insights surrounding lifestyles and real issues in the west abound in High Country News. Provocative articles, highlights of governmental issues, and outright appointed views reaching into the core values of rural life. What is the value of this now turned magazine/rag.

 

True to western life, if you are not challenging your gray matter before your hair achieves the same color: rest assured you will at least find the paper suitable to warm your house or shop.

 

Westerners are more mindful of how forest fires challenge the perceptions of public lands. Urbanites believe there is an endless old growth forest out here somewhere. While we see beetle kill primed stands that will burn faster than the Hudson River. Soon we will be able to sell Eco tours to someone who wants to replicate a moonwalk. From HCN we have garnered insights on government controlled grazing programs. A program, which contains the costs for the rancher, which in my culinarian mind reduces the cost of food to me. Yah, you can argue that cows contribute to stream bank erosion. Ungulates are bad, right? So, where should we place the resident moose population? Certainly those rutting cousin Elk are mindful of the Bull Trout’s needs. Consider the effects of a wetter spring season. All that flora in bloom is a gift. Right. Add a dry summer and a bolt lightening. These fine fuels will sanitize a Doug Fir/Ponderosa savannah. Now we are ready for the moon tours. Yet, in forests, not parks, management practices including thinning and grazing mosaic burns will occur for one-tenth the cost of suppressing the fire. Allowing the landscape to achieve homoeostasis in a relatively short time. Ultimatly, reducing the blowtorch effect on ridgeline McMansions.

 

HCN journalists tackle the controversial issues. How often have you seen Ray Ring defend his position in the editorial column? Rings expose on his brothers mental fitness upon first reading, makes one wonder about the editors frame of mind. With some reflection we have to ponder the quality of life for those who cannot afford to upgrade to suburbia in the golden years. Rings reflections show us how fragile our medical and social resources are. In a recent defense regarding an individual’s sobriety some readers took offense to this inclusion. When in reality, Ring holds to the tenants of investigative reporting. He provided us with hard facts. It is up to us to process to information in a meaningful manner. We all know that for rural residents life is harder than the ground in a Montana planes February. If the winds don’t blow ya down and bruise ya; falling off your horse or bike will.

 

Frequently we find musings on how correspondents respond to the varying uses allowed on public lands. Hiking enthusiasts horrified to think that it is safe to enjoy an outing in nature during the dreaded hunting season. Marred by stigmatisms ragging madmen strolling with Jack, Ezra, or Even blasting away the countryside. Yep a few bad apples do spoil the cart. Hunting licenses generate the lion’s share of funds for maintaining much of the public lands. Do the hikers thank the hunter?  Maybe when they figure out that Elmer Fudd is the only one with a snatch chain, come-along, or a jack rated for a Peterbuilt for getting out of the ditch. After all what kind of person would go into the woods without their chain saw. One never knows when that tree fell across the road if no one was close enough to hear it fall. Crack. Boom. Vroom. Some rust on the hands from that snatch chain and the road is clear again. Thanks again hunter. Inverts in Orange relish the chance to color the eating habits of the Greenies. Greenies are proud of their choice to choose grass fed, hormone free, free-range market meats. With hunting you get to choose your meat, too. Just no middleman costs, nor marketing program to inform them about the product. When will they learn?  Hunters just don’t understand healthy life style choices. But, remember; hunters do exist in a capitalistic society. They usually get two or three times to pump price for a gallon of gas in the woods. Sorry, they only accept cash. What is in your wallet/truck?

 

Straightforward, investigative stories, with a bent less predictable than the wind. Valuable information abounds in HCN about governmental decisions, about the need to follow the courses of action. Fore, against, or indifferent about an issue in the west. HCN provides a foundation for those issues surrounding the complications of living in rural communities relevant and reverent to the westerners. All of these thoughts were deduced through the regular reading of HCN and interacting with numerous agency and governmental types. I am not a member of HCN; I am a subscriber. Now. At least I think I am more informed than those guys in the coffee shop. For all of you contributing writers: keep tilting the windmills.