What Can We Make of Multiple Use?
When environmental politics become deeply partisan, the West’s public lands suffer.
By Steve Bunk, 8-02-11
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in a subcommittee hearing.
Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt’s re-entry in the political fray in recent weeks, which he says was precipitated by fears over the future of the nation’s wild lands, brings up the question of what it means nowadays to be a Westerner.
To many people, the answer probably would be the same as it ever has been: wide-open spaces. Even though relatively few of us actually live in undeveloped areas anymore, wild lands remain central to our collective identity.
It’s hard to think of any topic that gets Westerners going more intensely than wild lands and all they contain. Wolves, elk, salmon, sage-grouse, logging, mining, rivers, off-road vehicles, roadless areas, the list goes on and on. Is there a greater number of special interest groups involved in any other aspect of Western life?