CW; You say: “Only when the nation at large feels secure inrnhow local people will deal with resources can local control becomerna reality.” But you are working backward here. The 13rnstates under the Articles of Confederation created the federalrngovernment and made it responsible to them. Power in Americarnis supposed to flow from the small governmental units tornthe larger ones, not the reverse. Therefore, I would rephrasernyour statement to read, “Only when local people feel secure inrnhow the nation at large will deal with resources should federalrncontrol become a reality.”rnOf course, environmentalists, like social and civil rights workers,rncorporations, and other nationally minded groups and organizations,rnhave a preference for the nationalist approach,rnwhich requires them to convince only one entity—the federalrnleviathan—of the desirability of their programs and goals. Therncentral government may then allow the states and local communitiesrnto “implement” decisions imposed on them arbitrarilyrnby Washington, D.C. But how this process can be describedrnas “democracy,” let alone “community control,” is beyond me.rnThe same goes for “solutions” devised and implemented byrn”national values.” What about Western, New England, andrnSouthern values? And why should the increasingly abstract andrnhomogenized culture of the Beltway be free to determine whatrnis and is not a “sin” in Birmingham, Alabama, or Portland, Oregon?rnIncidentally, Frederick Jackson Turner probably wouldrnhave agreed with today’s traditional Westerners that they arernthe Last Americans, since, according to his frontier thesis, theyrnwere the Real Americans.rnEM: You describe the environmental conflict as one betweenrna centralized federal government and local communities.rnI see it as a conflict between certain Western communitiesrnthat use natural resources, on the one hand, and other just-aslocalrncommunities elsewhere in the United States. These otherrnlocal communities—acting through the federal governmentrn—want to change how the West uses the commonlyrnowned natural resources. If there were not real people in Americarnwho cared about the West, the federal government wouldrnnot be a problem for natural resource users. The situation willrnpersist until urban environmentalists gain a more sophisticatedrnunderstanding of how things happen on the ground and untilrnrural people understand that, in fighting against the very idearnof environmentalism, they are acting like the South did in thernpre-Civil Rights days.rnCW: The federal government had no constitutional justificationrnfor imposing most forms of desegregation on thernSouth—certainly not in the states’ educational systems. Evenrnso, the 14th Amendment says nothing about equal rights forrntrees, cacti, ecosystems, and wolves. But Washington has attemptedrnto use environmentalism to further its control over thernWestern (and indeed every other) region, as it used civil rightsrnto consolidate the megastate in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, andrnabolitionism in the antebellum period to gain the economicrnand political supremacy of the Northern states over the Southernrnones.rnShould environmentalists take “custom and culture” into accountrnin pushing their reforms, and, if so, to what extent?rnEM: Environmentalists definitely ought to take custom andrnculture into account. It enrages me when I hear environmentalistsrnsay, “So what if some loggers or miners lose their jobs—rnlook at all the people who lost their jobs in the steel mills, or inrnDetroit.” Orthey say, “Let them pour cappuccino.’ They applaudrnthe workings of the economic machine when it destroysrnvalues they do not care about, and fight it when it says, “Killrnthat forest! Build that dam!” So yes, environmentalists oughtrnto fight to preserve the West’s traditional values. And I thinkrnthat our general attitude toward those values has not been veryrnwell informed. We did not see what was at stake. We did notrnsee what was going to replace the Old West. We thought of thernOld West as incredibly powerful; we felt it was going to persistrnforever. And then, suddenly, like the Berlin Wall, but morernquietly, and over a longer period of time, it crumbled.rnIt crumbled because it was built on a rotten foundation. Thernrot in the Old West’s foundation was the fact that it did notrnprotect and preserve the region’s environmental health andrnquality. It did not look to the future and ensure that not justrnthe beaver and the easily mined gold would last for a long time,rnbut that the grass and forests and streams and wildlife and cleanrnair would remain as well.rnEnvironmentalism could help bring back the Old West: inrnits loyalty to the land and its resources, environmentalism is actuallyrntruer to the land-based traditions of the West than therncustom-and-culture crowd is. The trouble is, environmentalistsrnhave acted at times as an invading army, insensitive to the peoplernwho have lived here for generations or to people with differentrnvalues. Rather than seek to change people, we have tendeidrnto use lawsuits and political clout exclusively. And that hasrnbeen a mistake.rnBut the hopeless part of the custom-and-culture group isrnthat they do not want to be part of America. They are appalledrnby America. Thev despise urban values, and see themselves asrndwelling in a fortress that will protect them and their childrenrnfrom those destructive forces. I lived for 33 years in and aroundrnNew York City, and I have lived for 21 years in a small ruralrntown. Both are wonderful places, but neither has a hammerlockrnon virtue or brains or morality or, especially, on broadrnthinking. Each has a piece of the picture, and each needs thernother, not just for markets and specialized services and recreatingrnspace, but for the particular view each has of how the woddrnworks. The custom-and-culture view of rural, small-town societyrnas superior to that of the city, and the city’s view of therncountryside as being incompetent to protect natural resources,rnare simply flip sides of the same xenophobic coin.rnThe need is for the West to become cosmopolitan: to becomernopen to a variety of influences, without abandoning thernwonderful customs and cultures that make the West the West.rnNot to reduce everything to dollars and cents, but when a communityrndoes not understand the outside world, it dooms itselfrnin many ways, but certainly economically. A few years ago, forrnexample, the ranchers here came up with a slogan that thevrnused for their advertising: BEEF BUILDS STRENGTH. Thatrnslogan came out of their experience, but it was not going tornhave much appeal to urbanites. The OJ guys down in Floridarnshoot themselves in the foot over and over again in the samernway, choosing “spokesmen” like Anita Bryant who irritate urbanrnsensibilities. I am not saying they should not love Anita Bryant;rnI am saying they should not spend their hard-earned dollars onrnadvertising that chases away customers.rnCW: You say the custom-and-culture people do not want tornbe part of America. Well, in the same sense, neither do I; andrnneither, you said earlier, do you. In fact, you mentioned seeingrnthe West as a refuge from America.rnIn my experience, rural people have at least as great a famil-rn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn