Time to broaden the earth-protecting coalition

  Dear HCN,

I'd like to jump into the ongoing debate over which viewpoints are legitimate for HCN to publish.

I understand that this publication was founded with passion for environmental preservation. Very important still, but surely the time is ripe to welcome ranchers and timber companies as potential allies instead of designated villains. I was happy to see the article by a Potlatch official, to which other readers objected. The people who work for Potlatch are my neighbors, citizens of the West who are entitled to survive. Likewise the farmers and ranchers. I wish that the issue (HCN, 10/22/01) had given the front page to the "Rio Grande's unsung diplomat," who "worked with farmers and water managers to find new ways to look out for the health of the river, while meeting the needs of people," and put "Healing the Gila" on the back page. "Healing" reports with apparent glee that "the Forest Service booted cows off some Southwestern rivers," and that the agreement between the Forest Service and environmental groups "forced ranchers" to some drastic management changes. The author seems to be OK with the fact that some ranchers "called it quits." Good riddance, he seems to be saying.

I call myself an environmentalist. I want healthy ecosystems all over the planet. I also eat beef on a wooden dining table in my wood-frame house, travel in airplanes, drive a car, fence my pasture (wood posts come from loggers, barb wire comes from miners), wear wool clothes and leather shoes. What kind of jerk would use all these products but declare war on the providers? As I see it, we should accept that we humans are part of the ecosystem. We should strive mightily to broaden the earth-protecting coalition to include all stakeholders. HCN is my best source of news on what's working, what isn't working, the human and natural conflicts, the prospects for amelioration, the unnoticed catastrophes. I like to share it, but I can't give it to the people who need it most if the articles seem to write them off.

Darcy James
Grangeville, Idaho

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