The quiet desperation of declining towns and cities across America's West is understandable, writes George Wuerthner. Of course people dream of the 'good old days' when there were wild prairies to be grazed, forests to be felled and oil wells to be sunk - and try to bring them back. But in so doing they neglect and abuse their real and enduring wealth: nature, landscape and wildlife.
The public interest is already derelicted by federal officials on the US's public lands routinely intimidated by aggressive local economic and political interests, writes George Wuerthner. And now it's only going to get worse, with media coverage of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge debacle uncritically promulgating the false narrative of over-zealous enforcement of regulations.
Yellowstone Park is home to America's last pure-bred wild bison, writes George Wuerthner. Yet the Park's management is planning to kill around a thousand of these precious animals this winter. Ostensibly it's to protect cattle on public lands near the park from brucellosis. But bison have never been known to transmit the disease to them. The real reason is to keep all the pasture for livestock.
Fire is an essential part of the life-cycle of the forests of the American West, writes George Wuerthner, and the complex, biodiverse habitat that burning creates sustains hundreds of species that cannot survive without it. So please - no more talk of forests 'recovering' after fire - OK?
Ranchers can deliberately abuse public land and the wildlife that lives on it at will, writes George Wuerthner, confident that any breaches of the law are likely to be overlooked. But it's another thing altogether if you're trying to protect that land from destructive exploitation. Why the double standard?
The image of the rancher in the rugged West is one of self-sufficiency and a tough defiance of government, writes George Wuerthner. But the truth is that ranchers, especially those using federal land, depend on a host of generous subsidies, both economic and ecological.
Wilderness campaigners need to remember how great victories were won in the past - which was to aim high and hold steadfast, refusing easy compromises, writes George Wuerthner. Opposition must be overcome, never appeased.