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Know the West

The rural West can't have it both ways

  Dear HCN,

Ed Marston's essay, "Show me the science," leaves me perplexed (HCN, 3/16/98). On the one hand, Ed admits that the typical rural lifestyle near and using public lands has led to environmental degradation. On the other hand, he claims environmentalists are enemies of the rural economies and life. He cannot have it both ways. Why do I have to subsidize rural economies and lifestyles that are based on destroying my public resources via inappropriate grazing, mining, logging, and oil and gas drilling?

A large amount of federal lands in the United States are not appropriate for any type of development. We have taken productive, natural ecosystems and so altered and degraded them that the only way they can heal and not continue to be degraded is by leaving them alone or using them sparingly. We are to the point now that further degradation of these lands will make them essentially unusable. The only other alternative is accepting much reduced use or nonuse. I am glad environmentalists are pointing this out. I doubt the present uses are sustainable to the seventh generation or farther into the future.

What's the beef? Denial is still riding high in the West and we all pay for it. I want my money and healthy ecosystems and public lands back! No one has a right to continue such environmental destruction.

Brandt Mannchen

Houston, Texas