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for people who care about the West

We're consuming the West

  Dear HCN,

I would like to respond to Mike Moxcey's letter, headed "Ranchettes aren't all bad" (HCN, 3/16/98). Even with the "best" ranchette development, roads, houses, outlying buildings, power lines, sport utility vehicles and cats, dogs, children and adults can strip a land of its wildlife far quicker than can any mismanaged herd of cattle or sheep. And while the ecological health of an intact, poorly managed ranch can be restored with a change in management, the habitat fragmentation of the landscape that comes with subdivision development is permanent. End of story.

It's always easier to point the finger toward others as the cause of environmental degradation. It's not so easy to accept the responsibility ourselves. Even among my most ardent environmentalist friends, there are very few who have not purchased their dream of the little piece of land with the house that abuts the forest or some other "natural" landscape, and have thereby condemned a majority of the local wildlife community. These properties even become subtle boasting rights. Those without the financial resources are limited to dreaming still, but given the chance would do otherwise.

What is our recreation, our tourism and our multitudes of rural cabins doing to the real thing? The real thing is "nice to look at" but ultimately disposable if it gets in the way of our image consumption.

Stephen Hansen

Logan, Utah