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Know the West

A Neanderthal mentality in Silver City

  Dear HCN,

I would like to commend you for excellent coverage of the problems plaguing the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico (HCN, 5/2/94). For too long, battles have been raging between environmentalists and wise-use proponents there without anyone sitting up and taking notice.

Three years ago, my wife and I bought property in the Silver City area hoping to move there from southeastern Arizona in five years or so. Our home away from home and the friends we made in the Mimbres Valley were a welcome respite from our jobs as managers of a large nature preserve and guest accommodations across the stateline in Arizona. We were attracted to the area for the reasons you stated in your articles - an eclectic blend of ranchers, miners and hippies in a beautiful natural setting.

The last three years, however, have made us aware of the divisiveness, ignorance, hypocrisy and blatant lies among the anti-environmentalists and certain employees of the Forest Service. Their tactics to squelch free speech, and resistance to meaningful dialogue, are disgusting. What galls me even more is that these same people refer to themselves as "true Americans." Their Neanderthal mentality was a major factor in our decision to sell our home and stay in southeastern Arizona. It's not a perfect world here, but we don't hear idiotic shouts of "get a rope!" when someone speaks their mind.

I've got to hand it to the Gila Watch and the Greater Gila Biodiversity Project for their determination and fortitude under such adverse and violent conditions.

Mark B. Apel

Cascabel, Arizona