'Old West' Idaho was better

  Dear HCN,

I was born and raised in Idaho near Sun Valley. The Wood River Valley was an incredible place in which to grow up; I was as carefree as Huck Finn. The fishing and hunting were fantastic, and it wasn't considered politically incorrect then. Idaho's scenery was beautiful and pristine, and the "undesignated wilderness' provided solitude anywhere you cared to explore. Back then, Idaho's economy was depressed, but the quality of life was beyond compare.

Now, 40 years and 1 million people later, I am learning from city folks (most of whom grew up in a concrete jungle to our west) that despite my 50 years of growing up with Mother Nature all around me, I don't know a thing and never have. Tourists and new Idaho citizens alike can trample and love Idaho to death with outdoor activities. And economically - hey, thanks to tourism, we can still get a minimum-wage job as a bus boy at the Sun Valley Lodge.

I am so glad "the masses' have moved here and saved Idaho from certain destruction by loggers, farmers and ranchers while they crowd our river valleys with new industry and subdivisions. They displace the Idaho natives and import technicians and professionals.

While employing their environmental ethics to vote our cattle out, they are building subdivisions (ranchettes) on our wildlife's winter range and they are trampling our land with four-wheelers. They have eliminated the possibility of truly being alone with Mother Nature ever again, even in "designated wilderness." They are trying to recreate what they never knew, and I view them as fools.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not angry, I am heartbroken. Now I understand how Native Americans must feel and wish I could join them on the reservation. History does repeat itself.

Charlie Swearingen
Idaho City, Idaho

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