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.


Forest Service secrecy serves only confusion
Now that the Forest Service has entered its "evaluation" phase of the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II), it intends to keep its workings a secret until the final environmental impact statement is completed.
Western passenger train service should continue
We are glad to see that Congress is responding to its Western contingent by continuing Amtrak passenger train service until at least Oct. 1, 1979. This may allow enough time for the Department of Transportation to realize that cutting Amtrak routes is a bad idea.
American mania for self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency is an idea that has done more harm than good. On close examination it is flawed at the root. More importantly, it works badly in practice.
Dealing with environmental backlash: a proposal
A new term has cropped up on the political scene recently -- "environmental backlash." The same people who are warning about environmental backlash are the same people who seem to be against effective environmental protection in the first place.
Cutler: wilderness areas don't have to be pristine, virgin
In the second of a two-part series, Dave Foreman responds to the argument that over-eager conservationists degrade the wilderness system by fighting to include inferior areas in it.
Clean Air Act: making it work for you
With the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments, much of the burden -- and potential for protecting air -- is shifted to states and Indian tribes.
Are we degrading the Wilderness System?
In the first of a two-part series, Dave Foreman responds to the argument that over-eager conservationists degrade the wilderness system by fighting to include inferior areas in it.
Water won't stretch for Western cities' growth
Recent cases -- in which public agencies decided that cities would not get what they demand at the expense of other resources -- indicate that cities in the West are gradually being forced to accept the limits that lack of water will impose.
Flow reservations -- water under the bridge?
A flow reservation -- water which must be left in the river -- cannot override the water rights of a rancher, even if the stream is over-appropriated, but it can compete with future industrial water demands.
Water suit vital to coal and agriculture
Environmental Defense Fund staff member Kathy Fletcher doesn't hide the fact that her group is upset about the rush to develop the coal resources of the Northern Great Plains.
Confessions of a recycler
One person's view of experiences drawn from a recycling program, pointing out major problems and giving tips to others who are interested in recycling.
Population -- a perplexing problem
I submit that perhaps in our zeal to prevent the extinction of threatened species we have not sufficiently evaluated the seriousness of the threat to ourselves -- Homo sapiens.
In bondage to the moguls
Eastern power utilities have been telling the press that they are being forced to pay high prices for coal from nearby sources, and that they can buy Western coal and ship it across the country more cheaply. But then they file monthly reports with the Federal Power Commission that tell a different story.
Stripping bill filled with loopholes
Despite efforts by some legislators, a federal bill to regulate coal strip-mining is woefully weak and filled with the kind of loopholes that coal and utility lobbyists have written into state strip-mining regulations over the past 30 years.
Rangers to restore fire in the Tetons
A National Park Service plan to use "safe," prescribed wildfires to restore pristine ecological conditions in Grand Teton National Park may signal the end of the Smoky Bear era.
Attacking trash at the source
We talk about the growing problem of solid waste disposal, about the wonders of landfills-turned-parks, and about the ways we could reuse our solid waste at home, but we haven't quite made the point that we as individuals must attack the source of the solid waste problem.
Stepping on the golden egg
HCN author Bruce Hamilton recalls testifying against the proposed Grand Teton Jetport at a hearing in Jackson, Wyo.
In defense of trail cycling
Riding a trail-type motorcycle along a challenging trail through broken terrain or a remote scenic area can provide a genuine thrill, no matter what your age.
The limits to parks
Overpopulation in our national parks of the two-legged and 4-wheeled varieties threatens to destroy the very thing visitors come to see. Wilderness quality is rapidly being displaced by quantity in the growing numbers of visitors, vehicles and facilities in the parks.
Controversy in Jackson Hole
The congressional and presidential decision to finance a $2.2 million airport expansion to accommodate jets in Grand Teton National Park is an extension of an already flagrant violation of the park's stated conservation policy.