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Know the West

He's true blue

  Dear HCN,

I enjoyed reading about Sid Goodloe (HCN, 4/15/96) - a fellow who applied grit and intelligence to fix his piece of the West. I didn't exactly enjoy, but sure did appreciate, the contrast provided by the "opinions from experts."

The "experts' certainly covered most of the type. The old forestry professor is impressive when he notes that "there was not a shred of evidence in 1973, and there is none now" (that p-j woodland has any adverse watershed consequences) - so all trees are wonderful and Goodloe didn't do that? And the biology professor sounds most knowledgeable in observing that fire plays little or no role in grass/tree dynamics; it's simply a case where "juniper follows overgrazing' - so cows are terrible and Goodloe didn't do that? I thought the truly classic type is the ecologist who reviewed all the literature and found that: You really can't tell what the relations are, but "juniper may have fewer effects on erosion than livestock' - so trees are probably OK but cows are terrible and Goodloe didn't actually do that? And I really liked the lady with loooong view: "Bless his heart. He can probably do that the rest of his life." - if he only knew - in just another 5,000 years or so the climate will swing again and the trees will either be droughted out or the area will start getting enough rain to grow both grass and trees. There was so little need for Goodloe to put in 40 years at hard labor.

Gee, which fount of knowledge should one choose? Writer Dan Dagget, on observing the "dueling literature cites' of opposing camps, put the matter succinctly: "Some things you just can't settle with words ... the only way to find out who really knows what's wrong out there and how to fix it is to see who can make those lands healthy and growing and diverse again." The Dagget test makes this real simple: If, as some of us believe, "the greatest patriot is he who heals the most gullies," then Sid Goodloe is a true-blue, red-blooded, all-American hero.

Earl McKinney

Carson City, Nevada