Writers on the Range


Writers on the Range is opinion from the ground up. Got a beef with beef? An experience that changed your mind about the American West? Writers from the region tell their story in 750 words. Op eds are syndicated to 50-plus papers, and they also appear here, on the HCN website. For more information, contact Writers on the Range editor, Betsy Marston: betsym at hcn.org.


Watt and Hodel succeeded in turning back the clock at Interior
The war fought by the Reagan administration for the Department of Interior and the 500 million acres of public land it manages occurred in two great battles, waged by Secretary James Watt and his successor, Donald Hodel.
Clean Water Act hasn't done the job
Few of our waters are free of polluting discharges. There are local success stories, but many state water agencies say they are barely able to maintain water quality at 1972 levels.
In search of a few long levers
Environmentalists should look beyond the regulate-litigate approach and consider things like superconductivity, which could have substantial long-term environmental benefits.
The Forest Service kowtows while forests burn
Our belief is that America will recover itself by the end of this decade, and stop the destruction of the forests. To do that, it will have to destroy the once-proud U.S. Forest Service. That will be easy, for the agency has deeply wounded itself.
The destructive death throes of Oregon I
The old "Oregon I" was built upon the seemingly endless supply of never-cut timber called old-growth. After 40 years of accelerated logging of these towering forests after World War II, less than 10 percent now remain.
The EPA is hunting those who kill by degrees
There are a thousand and one ways to get rid of a drum of hazardous waste, but only a handful of them are legal. Despite shelves of hazardous waste laws and regulations with their well-defined civil and criminal penalties, environmental crime is increasing roughly in proportion to the country's escalating chemical production.
Marriage of convenience
Even as we make our alliances, there is no doubt that the environmental movement's next great effort will be to contain and civilize the "recreation" industry, the "retirement" industry, and whatever else moves into the economic vacuum in the rural Rockies.
The West's top stories: land, land, land, land
The 1986 High Country News index beginning on page 8 lists hundreds of individual stories, but all are about the same question: the use and control of the land.
Post mortem on FOE
With the closure of Friends of the Earth's western Colorado office in Palisade and its branch offices in Tucson, Ariz., Crested Butte, Colo., and Moab, Utah, FOE's 17-year conservation program in the intermountain West is now history.
Edward Abbey is an optimist
"The world is older, bigger and more interesting than we are. Growth is the enemy. Every organism grows to optimum space, then stops." If it doesn't, he says, it's a freak, which means our overblown and overdone technological civilization is headed for a great explosion, followed by collapse. "That's why I'm an optimist."
Real reclamation
The choice by Kennecott and Asarco to clean up their smelters early on rather than be pushed out because of pollution shows that reduced livestock and logging industries can also survive -- but only if they adapt.
On playing mouse to a hungry wild cat
The lion now crouched directly in front of the truck, staring at me ...
This race of lemmings built power plants
Electrical utilities, water agencies, gas companies, nuclear reactor builders and multinational oil giants all share a volatile and difficult future.
Fishing bridge must be destroyed
Since 1976, biologists have attributed 90 percent of Yellowstone National Park's grizzly bear mortality to Fishing Bridge, which contains a 308-unit campground and a 358-unit recreational vehicle park.
A feudal mentality holds back the West
Unless the trashing and privatization stops, the intermountain Rockies will never escape their feudal social and economic situation. Those who now control the land and the land managers don't have a glimmer of how to lead the region out of its downward slide.
Environmental leaders stand up for orthodoxy
Things are grim if you identify the vigor of the environmental movement with the major groups -- but they are not the movement.
A rancher argues cattle grazing helps everyone
Many people misunderstand the role of the rancher who grazes cattle or sheep on public land.
Wildlife is preyed on by cattle and sheep
The desert grasslands of southern Idaho once supported a vast population of antelope, buffalo, deer, elk, moose, grizzly bear and wolves before settlers moved in during the 1840s. Where is all the wildlife today?
BLM's grazing program is a national scandal
A mere 2 percent of the nation's cattle are consuming the Western public lands that belong to all Americans. So abused are these lands that many millions of acres are only one-tenth as productive as in pre-settlement times.
The life and death of Rocky Mountain towns
Sadly for both the towns and for progressive editors, the times are changing much faster in these towns than the local cultures. It is highly unlikely that these cultures can adapt, even though their survival is at stake.
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