I am not as confused as you think.
© 1998 by C.J. Hadley, Publisher/Editor
CJ Photo ©Jeff Ross
For a copy of the current issue
Read the letters. Some of you quit me because you think I'm too
radical. Others quit me because I'm too conservative. If I don't
suit your paradigm, I'm thrown to the wolves, the griz and the
bull trout. If I do suit your point of view, you kiss my too quickly
aging Brit butt.
A rancher's wife in Wyoming recently said I was too "green."
An environmentalist from Arizona, at almost the same moment, said
that I am "rabidly pro-rancher." An old friend from Detroit sent
his subscription renewal notice back (unsigned but I knew his
writing and his postmark), "Don't send me any more of this propaganda."
Just because he earns more than six figures, drives a flashy car
and I get my pay in small donations doesn't mean my message doesn't
relate to him and his family's future.
Frankly, I'm scared. You'd think I was nuts if I told you
there's a conspiracy going on to take water rights from ranchers
and farmers to give it, through politicians with juice, to the
ever more thirsty cities.
How are we gonna eat?
You'd call me crazy if I told you the feds are going around
small rural communities wearing outfits resembling a "dress-down"
from Harvard. Blue button-down shirts and laundered denims. And,
boy, are they kind and "sincerely" interested in the ranchers'
future! They have learned well from their mentor back on the Potomac.
It's amazing to me that Bruce Babbitt is still employed as Secretary
of Interior...but makes perfect sense when you consider his boss.
You'd say, "Take this broad to Bellevue" (an asylum in New
York) if I shared with you the theories I am hammered with daily.
You'd mail me handkerchiefs if you knew how often I wept at the
desk simply because I feel helpless to do anything to save the
rural West. And you'd order me tranquilizers if you shared my
unadulterated joy when something happens to a rancher that's good.
The wolf story written by J. Zane Walley in the Fall 1998
issue drew a lot of comments (Letters, p.9) and Babbitt's U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service and its green friends continue to deny
that wolves are a threat to humans. That's nonsense and it will
Also, some fervent folks seem to be dumping endangered species
on public land. Recently there has been an interesting increase
in wolves and grizzly in places they are not supposed to be (p.5).
Another bad thing is that because ranchers are in the best
places and have worked longest and hardest, their homes have become
the most desired pieces of real estate in the country. Ted and
Jane, Tom Brokaw, Harrison Ford and other rich celebs and stars
seem to agree because they pay millions for what used to be great
cow and sheep outfits.
Many western ranchers are barely hanging on. (Jay Walley
thinks that ranchers' total annihilation is the whole point of
the "Green Scheme"--see Spring '98 and p.44 in this issue.) They
stay on the ranch even though their children have to seek jobs
elsewhere. They have quit going to meetings, have drawn in their
belts because beef prices have been worse than breakeven for years
(p.23), and they can't kill predators that are decimating their
livestock (p.5). They must be praying a lot because they sure
aren't getting proactive or working hard enough politically to
protect their future. Many have given up, taken money from developers,
and moved to a place they'd rather not be.
Granted, ranching is not an easy life but it's one upon which
this nation's greatness was built. Somehow through the supermarketing
of America, the average person has lost sight of the importance
of maintaining and sustaining the family ranch.
Pressures are constant on folks in production agriculture.
The outsiders' knowledge (the ones who seldom get outside the
meeting hall) is slight. To know what's happening on the land
you have to get out there on your hands and knees and look down.
You have to get dirty. Maybe even sweat.
There are some well-educated but ignorant greens out there
who have tasted power and blood and demand more (p.44). These
mean spirits are licking their chops with successes while destroying
families and communities. But there is hope. Other bright, articulate
environmentalists with vision and love for the land are working
with resource users for a better future. And, in so doing, they
are not trashing farmers and ranchers (p.12).
Food producers are practically out of the political loop,
which should be bad news to everyone. Let's hope the wars between
the environmentalists--the rationals and the radicals--brings
in the right winners. Then those of us who still live in rural
America won't have to move to town.