firms—the ones that cannot adapt to the national demand forrnenvironmental quality. And the least charitable interpretationrnis that they are moral cowards, afraid to take on corporationsrnbut willing to beat up on the Sierra Club.rnCVV: It seems to me that, in arguing that a traditional Westernrnculture has been substantially weakened since the mid-rn1970’s, you are largely extrapolating from your residency on thernWest Slope of Colorado. Wyoming, of course, is far and awayrnthe last populated of the Intermountain States, but from observationrnmade in the course of considerable travel in the Rockies,rnfrom Canada to Mexico, I believe suburbanization has beenrnconfined to certain areas and communities within the states—rnareas surrounded by regions and other communities that approximaternPaonia and its environs as you remember them. (Myrnown town of Kemmerer is manifestly unsuburbanized.) Inrnthese communities, it matters very little, from a cultural standpoint,rnwhether one is a cowboy, or a banker, or sells insurance,rnor writes books and articles. Whatever they do for a living, thernmajority of the residents of these places have rural interests,rnrural skills, and a fundamentally rural orientation. Everyonernhunts, everyone camps; many town people are related to outlyingrnranch families, or are descended from them, and help withrnseasonal ranch work. They keep horses, put them into shows,rnride in rodeos, and enroll their children in 4-H. This is why Irnbelieve that the West’s attachment to, and dependency on, thernland is more than false self-perception, a refusal to face the factrnof a changed reality.rnI too like Western society for its absence of class awareness,rnits social structure divided or distinguished by occupationrnrather than by class affiliation and income status. And we obviouslyrnagree that the parts of the West that have lost this classlessrncharacter are those most affected by wealthy reereationistsrnand retirees arriving from someplace else: Vail and Aspen inrnColorado, Jackson in Wyoming. So far, however, I have not observedrnmanagement employed by the big energy companiesrnand imported from elsewhere to have had much perverse effectrnin this respect. Rather, they appear to have become assimilatedrninto the local culture of these small Western energy towns.rnMy experience is that, instead of complaining about the lack ofrnlocal or regional shopping, these newcomers drive to Salt LakernCity 130 miles away to visit the malls, and on alternate weekendsrngo camping or fishing up the fork, like everyone else. Thernsame, I would say, goes for those holding the newly createdrnpencil-pushing computer-hacking jobs. They cannot changernthe natives, so they join them.rnJim Catron, legal counsel for Catron County, New Mexico,rnbelieves that new arrivals to the West will become acculturatedrnto traditional Western manners, mores, and habits of thought.rnWestern culture, he believes, will prove attractive to these peoplernbecause it works: not only does it create a strong sense ofrnpersonal identity that mall rats and suburbanites lack, but it isrnsuited to circumstances of existence m the West (climate, geography)rnthat are unique and unchangeable by human activityrnand human will. For example, he cites a friend of his son’s atrnthe University of New Mexico: a Jewish girl whose grandparentsrnmoved West from New York many years ago. Today, this youngrnlady of Eastern extraction breaks horses, rodeos, exploresrnwilderness, and chews tobacco.rnMany Westerners believe that environmentahsm will either workrndrastic changes in traditional Western life or make such changesrninevitable. Is this a fair and accurate perception?rnEM: It is fair to say that the entire working of our system isrngoing to transform the West. The environmentalist agendumrnis part of that transforming engine. But let us say we drop thernenvironmental part of it. We would still get the transformationrn—the culture-destroying part—but we would not get cleanrnair, clean water, intact watersheds and forests, and the rest. Bigrnmining and big logging, and so on, are waging as much of a warrnon the West as Secretary Babbitt and the Sierra Club are.rnCW: We agree that the working of the American system isrnon track to ruin the West. But environmentalism is a part ofrnthat agendum, in ways that not all of its members recognize, orrnwould approve of if they did. Because most environmentalistsrnare also urbanites or suburbanites, and both of these classes ofrnpeople regard nature, the country, “wilderness” as a recreationalrnlocale, not as their place of work—since it is not. But humanrnculture is the product not of play but of work. This is an anthropologicalrnand sociological fact. No work, no custom—orrnculture.rnGranted, big mining and big logging, etc., are as destructivernas Babbitt and the Sierra Club. But Washington, D.C.—rnwhether directed by Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton—uses environmentalrnregulation as a means of political control. Here is myrnown—in some ways highly personal—dilemma: I want to seernthe devolution of political control take place in this country, inrnthe West as every place else. But I do not wish to see the developmentrncrowd use devolution, the desirability of a return tornrepublican government and a greater measure of communityrncontrol, as a cover for the rape of the natural West and therndestruction of the Western way of life that would inevitablyrnfollow it.rnHas the environmental movement, by demanding and creatingrnregulatory law from the federal and state governments, played arnpart in undermining state and community control and affectingrnand altering Western institutions? Is it fair to say that environmentalismrnis fundamentally undemocratic in its mode of operation?rnEM: Well, yes, but that was last year’s environmental movement.rnThis year’s new improved movement is moving towardrna more local approach. What I see and write about more andrnmore are environmentalists who understand that the solutionsrnmust be implemented at the local level. But, I believe, these solutionsrnmust fall within the boundaries set by national values.rnThe West was built, and damaged, by the national values inrnforce in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century: valuesrnthat put industrial and urban development above everything.rnNow the nation has moved on, leaving parts of the West—rnespecially the sincere Wise Use and custom-and-culturernfolks—feeling (how many times have I heard it?) like the LastrnAmericans. Give me a break.rnI do not think environmentalism is antidemocratic. I wouldrnsay that by going national with public lands issues, it is beingrndemocratic b’ expanding the circle of those who have a say inrnpublic lands management. (Though environmentalism, by doingrnthat, is helping to create an unworkable situation.) Communityrncontrol cannot be used as a blanket that can cover anyrnsins local people wish to perpetrate. Only when the nation atrnlarge feels secure m how local people will deal with resourcesrncan local control become a reality. At the same time, urbanrnpeople have to be more realistic about what happens when yournwork with nature.rnlUNE 1996/23rnrnrn