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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Letters

A headstrong hero

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It was a great pleasure to read the article in the Feb. 20 edition of High Country News on Martin Litton ("A restless giant"). He is one of the heroes of the American West: passionate, headstrong, principled. The photo of him rowing the dory in the Grand Canyon should one day make its way to the Smithsonian. No one did more to protect it than he did.

I was fortunate to spend a weekend with Martin at a retreat for American Land Conservancy in 2000. At the time, I was in the middle of the Klamath water wars, representing the Conservancy and other conservation organizations in what turned out to be a zero-sum game. I found Martin humorous, supportive of thankless work, and brutally insightful: "They'll find a way to screw you, especially if Bush is elected." As it turned out, that is exactly what happened.

Martin is the senior fellow of the genre of environmental militancy framed by his associates, Edward Abbey and David Brower. They saved national treasures at critical moments, politics and chains-of-command be damned. It is a new century, and new approaches are required to save what we value. But it is important to remember that without the tireless, principled and militant work of people like Martin, our work today would not even be possible. Heroes went before us.

Rich McIntyre
Hailey, Idaho

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