Writers on the Range


Writers on the Range is opinion from the ground up.


Edward Abbey got the FBI interested in literature
According to documents made available through Freedom of Information Act, the FBI kept track of Abbey's writing and activities for 20 years, trying to determine whether the controversial author was a security threat to the United States.
Federal agents killed about 250,000 predators in 1987
For more than 60 years, very little has changed inside the federal Animal Damage Control division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Grazing permits are valuable: You can bank on it
With all the fuss made about livestock grazing on public lands in the West, it is surprising to learn that they account for only 2 percent of U.S. livestock grazing. But to the rancher who depends on Western rangelands for pasture, it's a make or break situation.
Ecotage isn't a solution, it's part of the problem
The time for an ambiguous attitude toward ecotage passed with the announcement of the arrests in Arizona and the allegations of a plan to attack the Rocky Flats nuclear arsenal.
Biff! Pow! Bang! Three initiatives lose to big money
Last November, environmental activists waging underfinanced ballon initiative campaigns in South Dakota, Montana and Nebraska took beatings from well-funded experts.
Logging our way to economic poverty
Coos Bay, Ore., is awash in logs, but for the first time since 1936 there's not a single plywood or lumber mill operating in the area. Instead, there are foreign-flagged ships.
How dam opponents developed and refined a strategy
The battle against Two Forks Dam was fought with two strategies, one within and one outside of the EIS process.
Why Denver's concrete proposal got beat
Two Forks Dam is on the verge of veto because the economic currents are flowing against it, and the political currents are following.
What did not happen on the Great Plains
The Bureau of Reclamation's grandiose plans -- laid out in the 1971 North Central Power Study -- to turn parts of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas into an energy sacrifice area haven't come to pass.
The West is crippled by its resources
Writer Wallace Stegner has a rule of thumb: The more arid a state, the worse its congressional delegation. I have a corollary to that rule: The more a state is "blessed" with natural resources, tile worse off it will be economically, socially and politically.
INEL puts Idaho's political hypocrisy to a rough test
The Idaho National Energy Lab is the biggest blind spot in Idaho politics. Politicians who rail against the evils of big government while pulling every string for INEL projects are faithfully reflecting those who elect them.
Save the forests: Let them burn
There is no getting around this ecological fact of life: Within nearly all forest communities of the Rocky Mountains, fires are essential form maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
O'Toole is the Adam Smith of forest economics
O'Toole has done all of us, including the Forest Service, a great favor. His genius and hard work have shown us that the national forests are governed by a welter of laws whose purpose and workings are exactly the same as those of the 1872 Mining Law.
Ranchers may be losing the war of the myths
The traditional view of the West and its wild rangeland is changing. No longer are conservationists and environmentalists a fringe interest group.
Phoenix and LA cast long shadows
Petrified Forest-Painted Desert National Park in northeastern Arizona is about 200 miles and a mountain range away from Phoenix, Ariz. But Phoenix, with help from even more distant Los Angeles, is the primary cause of air pollution at the park.
In the West, subsidy begets subsidy begets subsidy
Knowing that the history of water development in the West is marked by waste, fraud and assorted other abuses does not make it easier to accept new reminders that the government is pouring our money down some drain.
ORVs on public land require education and regulation
Lack of understanding of the fragility of our Western range and forest lands, combined with unenforced regulations, have allowed off-road vehicles to seriously damage our public lands.
McClure-Andrus wilderness bill is worse than nothing
The McClure-Andrus package is obviously superior, statewide, to McClure's 1984 proposal. But the transformation of public perceptions that we require has not occurred. Now the exigencies of substantially improving or fighting this legislation will dominate our time.
Hapless DOE: What a long, strange trip it's on
Transportation of nuclear waste is an issue waiting to get hot. Federal plans for finding a place to put it are unclear, but the government's ultimate goal is disposal of radioactive debris from the civilian reactor and nuclear weapons industries in a deep geologic formation.
Bringing wolves back will kill more than sheep
There is much to admire about the wolf. He is strong and brave and invisible to all except the lucky who catch fleeting glimpses of rare individuals. But let's save him for real wilderness where he won't impact ranchers or eagles or grizzlies. Let's be thankful he roams the Snake River plain no more.
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