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for people who care about the West

Regulations rejected


Will a twice-burned county change its ways?” (HCN, 12/26/16) details how residents of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley block efforts by their state and county governments to require homeowners in the fire zone to prepare for -inevitable wildfires. Residents reject county regulation and demand private-property rights. These Bitterroot Valley conservatives can teach us a great deal about a mindset that demands that the federal government turn public lands over to the state because of “overreach” on the part of the U.S. Forest Service (which has spent tens of millions of dollars protecting Bitterroot Valley homeowners and fighting fires made worse by past subsidized logging). Conservatives not only reject federal regulation, they reject regulation by the most local, responsive level of government. I’m sure the free-market insurance companies that are asked to replace burned homes are noticing the lack of county and private action to protect homes. Perhaps the locals will be more receptive to government action when insurance companies raise their rates or cancel their policies altogether.

Tom Ribe
Santa Fe, New Mexico