Learning from the old-timers

  Dear HCN,

I appreciated the interview with Steve Hinchman in the July 31 issue. It's encouraging to know that there are other people who understand the problems that "recreation-based environmentalism" is causing in the rural West. Although I considered myself an environmentalist back when the movement was still the grassroots underdog, I'm terrified now at the tyrannical monster that's been created with mainstream money and changing politics.

I often wonder what happened to the bioregional approach in which we learned to live well in a place by listening to the old-timers. They'd tell us how the local human/natural habitat interface worked - and didn't work - and we learned from their mistakes. There was a continuity to living in rural areas that had little to do with this "Old West/New West" dichotomy. This approach took patience, commitment and humility; all of these seem to be in short supply in our current economic and personal/political climate.

What can be done for the rural West? If you don't agree with the national environmentalist agenda and yet, can't stomach all the People for the USA rhetoric, perhaps we have the kernel of a second sagebrush rebellion in our hands, united in the common interest "to simultaneously inhabit and preserve fully working ecosystems." It's heartening that high-profile people like Steve Hinchman are willing to lay this complex and controversial issue on the table. Thanks for sticking your neck out, Steve.

Lauren Davis
Lee Vining, California
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