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.


What do environmentalists really want?
What this one wants is to live in a time when no one feels the need to use the word "environmentalist."
What do environmentalists really want?
After working as a professional environmentalist for over ten years, I have come to the conclusion that environmentalists don't know what they want. They certainly know what they don't want, but what they think they want instead often turns out to be worse than what they've got.
Can the Forest Service survive?
Several months ago, we asked: Can the Forest Service be reformed? Now, after seeing that the agency can't even get along with the Wyoming delegation, we ask: Can the Forest Service survive?
What do environmentalists really want?
I believe that conservationists -- and other public lands users -- can and should pay their fair share.
The rancher-environmentalist feuding should end
I ask my fellow environmentalists to think and investigate before they make sweeping condemnations of ranchers; and ranchers to be similarly understanding with environmentalists. We have much more in common that most of us know.
A critic profanes the West's water gospel
Does it make sense for Colorado to develop its legal entitlement of the waters of the Colorado River to grow low-value crops like alfalfa? The federal investment in the Animas-La Plata would be over a million dollars per farm. Can such an investment rationally be justified?
Kootenai Falls decision is different
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge makes a startling decision to reject Montana's Kootenai Falls Project in favor of preserving the falls in their natural state.
Taking the broad geographical view
Tom Bell reflects on HCN's move from Lander, Wyo. to Paonia, Colo., saying that HCN is a useful voice, still needed, wherever it's situated.
Yoo-hooing our way to decline
Especially in the West -- where independence and conservatism are an authentic part of the regional consciousness -- we all understand the hypocritical and ultimately destructive nature of the cargo cult and pork barrel approaches. But we have been able to pretend we do not really understand what is happening.
Can the Forest Service be reformed?
We have followed the agency for a decade. The sum total of the positive, constructive things we can say is that there are good people out in the field. And some of them have the courage and ingenuity to do good work despite their superiors.
The EPA now trades lives for jobs
EPA head William Ruckelshaus has repeatedly sounded the theme that the agency needs more flexibility to carry out its mission.
A fable for our time
The existing technological culture won't be pushed aside without a hard fight. The resilience of the Bureau of Reclamation at Glen Canyon Dam this summer showed that.
Watt calls out the 'True America'
James Watt must be seen as a man with a mission. Unlike a Richard Nixon or a Ronald Reagan, Watt's mission is more important to him than politics.
Nuking the media
Trickery and half-truths are what the nuclear industry and its appendages fed to America's journalists for several decades. It used journalists to tell America that nuclear power was perfectly safe, run by well-trained technicians, and would provide the nation with endless amounts of very cheap energy.
Pothunting for profit -- and the loss of history
Although the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 prohibits the taking of Indian artifacts, each year countless pieces of thousand-year-old Anasazi pottery are taken home as souvenirs.
The middle of the madding crowd
Has much changed since Rudyard Kipling toured Yellowstone in 1889 and wished he were dead, rather than be among preening American tourists?
Greater Yellowstone Coalition formed
About 50 environmentalists from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho met in Jackson Hole as the founding convention for a the new Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
Idealists need not apply
Montana environmentalists waited to see how Governor Schwinden's administration might deal with the state's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. They have now waited and seen, and their patience is growing thin.
Reagan's assault on the strip mine law
By reorganizing the Office of Surface Mining and by attacking the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, the Reagan administration has rolled back national standards for controlling coal strip mining.
Kemmis' call for leadership
A speech by Dan Kemmis, who has risen quickly to leadership of the state's House after serving as House Minority Leader in 1981, and was the author of Montana's 1979 coal slurry ban.
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