Time Warp

  • ALL HIT CAST: A sound track from Radio High Country News

    Diane Sylvain
  • And God created big cows

    Diane Sylvain
  • Unmonitored grazers

    Jim Maloney, Bureau of Land Management
  • A map of the state of Befuddlement

    Diane Sylvain
 

Shoot, the enviros haven't won the battle for the West's public lands after all

Back in the 1980s, the West was cut and dried. Ronald Reagan and James Watt were there to protect us from soft-on-Communism redwoods, while environmentalists climbed tripods and lay down on the statehouse steps in protest. There were good guys and bad guys.

Those were good times. Simple times.

Then came the gray years of the 1990s, when suddenly it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Consensus groups broke out like a pox. Ranchers, miners and enviros sat down together, formed potluck support groups and knitting circles, thanked each other for sharing and wished each other a nice day.

The age of dams - one of our favorites - had ended. The golden age of clear cutting was over, too. Out-of-work loggers planted trees and shrubberies with nice little paths running right down the middle. Bumper stickers cried, "Save an owl, eat a logger." It was enough to confuse the most astute Western journalist.

Quite frankly, all the hand-holding made for poor headlines: "Floyd Dominy apologizes, says he didn't know there was a canyon down there," "Maybe cows are good for desert after all," "Helen Chenoweth welcomes wolves, Hispanics to Idaho," "Wilderness activist busted in bed with bovine," "Logger marries Julia Butterfly in tree."

It was the age of dull environmental journalism about confusing collaboration, the age of enviro journalists wanting more interesting ages to write about.

But now, in an ironic twist, the good old days are back: Dick Cheney in the White House, Jim Watt's former hit-woman in charge of Interior. The public lands open for plunder, global warming not a problem, even the Cold War miraculously revived. It's the age of retro. This is the West that was.

It makes our job a whole lot easier. No more days of sitting through endless roundtable discussions while everyone tiptoes around being inordinately sensitive to each other. Never again will you have to read the same old story of consensus group formation: "At first it was hard, because we all look so different - they have short hair, we have long hair, we say potayto, they say potahto. But after a while, we started to see eye to eye. We even started to like each other. Then came the torrid affairs, the long passionate nights on the range, the break-ups, the breakdowns, the heartbreak. Now we're in counseling and on antidepressants. It's getting better all the time."

No, no. No more feel-good stuff here; no more "I'm OK, you're OK, and the West is pretty darn OK too." It's back to the days of fast-shootin' body-slammin' old-fashioned Western politics. And why not? The retro thing has worked for the fashion industry (how else would you explain the return of those horrible calf-length bloomers women are wearing these days?), it's worked for the music industry (Lenny Kravitz? Hello?), and from the looks of it, it's worked for Washington too. There's no reason it shouldn't work for HCN.

In fact, we've decided that we'll just reprint stories from the 1980s. No need to write original stories when we've seen it all before. Of course, the names will have to be changed * except for the president's, of course * and we may have to touch up some of the photos. But by and large, it's back to the classics! Here's hoping it hits you like an old tune from Rocky Horror Picture Show: "Let's do the time warp agaaaain ..."

see pg. 88 for more ...

Arts and insanities

This gorgeous fresco, And God created big cows, was just unveiled amid great fanfare in the bovine community. Created by the artist Milkelangelo, himself an American of Holstein descent, it is seen as a response to all the recent negative publicity over so-called "Mad Cow" disease. "Many Bovine-Americans feel that we are unfairly targeted by the media," a spokescow for the artist says. "We're not even that mad, really. Just a wee bit miffed sometimes, maybe." Milkelangelo's work is supported by a grant from the National Encowment for the Arts.

more on pg. 55 ...

Out with the old

The House Resources Committee, formerly the House Natural Resources Committee, has been renamed once again under the new administration, and is now the House Disposable Resources Committee.

more on pg. 26 ...

Unmonitored grazers

Many of the West's public lands are plagued by a new problem: feral computers. "Their owners tend to lose interest and abandon them when they get new ones," the BLM's Helena Handbasket explains. "But when they're in the wild, they can be dangerous; they form ferocious packs and roam everywhere, devouring and deleting data and downloading in once-pristine streams and ponds."

more on pg. 27 .....

High Country News Classifieds
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM MANAGER
    Associate Program Manager ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our State Parks thrive. From redwood groves and desert springs...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • FREE RANGE BISON AVAILABLE
    Hard grass raised bison available in east Montana. You harvest or possible deliver quartered carcass to your butcher or cut/wrapped pickup. Contact Crazy Woman Bison...
  • CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE - OKANOGAN LAND TRUST (NORTH CENTRAL WA)
    Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, and the chance to work with many different kinds of people and accomplish big conservation outcomes? Do you...
  • CARDIGAN WELSH CORGIS
    10 adorable, healthy puppies for sale. 4 males and 6 females. DM and PRA clear. Excellent pedigree from champion lineage. One Red Brindle male. The...
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • DIGITAL ADVOCACY & MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    The Digital Advocacy & Membership Manager will be responsible for creating and delivering compelling, engaging digital content to Guardians members, email activists, and social media...
  • DIGITAL OUTREACH COORDINATOR, ARIZONA
    Job Title: Digital Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Position Location: Phoenix or Tucson, AZ Status: Salaried Job ID Number: 52198 We are looking for you! We are...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator who is passionate about conservation and...
  • INDIAN COUNTRY FELLOWSHIP
    Western Leaders Network is accepting applications for its paid, part-time, 6-month fellowship. Mentorship, training, and engaging tribal leaders in advancing conservation initiatives and climate policy....
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE MANAGER
    The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Manager develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans and methods for large-scale geographic areas. The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (MRCMA)...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • ASSISTANT OR ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES
    Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities Whitman College The Environmental Humanities Program at Whitman College seeks candidates for a tenure-track position beginning August 2023...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) in Crested Butte, CO is seeking an enthusiastic Executive Director who is passionate about the public lands, natural waters and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with volunteer management experience to join...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The conservation non-profit Invasive Species Action Network seeks an executive director. We are focused on preventing the human-caused spread of invasive species by promoting voluntary...