Change is coming

  • John McCarthy


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

John McCarthy is conservation director of the Idaho Conservation League. He lives in Boise.

John McCarthy: "The big message in the forest today is, "change is coming - hard and fast." We know the days of towns built around big, wasteful sawmills that required plentiful, cheap logs are over. At the same time, fish, critters, water and the land itself are forcing people to do things different.

"This is a difficult transition in the rural West, but it creates a real opportunity, because of new demands. The owners of the public land demand use of their land for recreation, and they demand both repair of past abuses and careful use in the future. These new demands are the foundation of a new rural economy, beyond a few more wilderness outfitters and convenience stores. Some of the new economy will be to repair nature's infrastructure, to do the watershed repair. Logging will likely be part of the picture, when it's designed for our land - not just our pockets.

"If we repair the front country and protect the backcountry, and the streams are filled with trout and salmon, and the hills have real forests and wildlife, you can bet folks will want to be there. A lot of folks are going to flee the freeways and find ways to be in the real world. And they're going to want to buy hamburgers and beer, or tofu and wine.

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Steve Thompson

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