Writers on the Range


Writers on the Range is opinion from the ground up.


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.
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 ...
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