The Hundredth Meridianrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rnUp From MichiganrnI’bntcnellc Creek ran fast and brown atrnthe erossing, the waves flashing backward,rnflooding islands of willow that bentrnbefore the strength of the water to showrnthe gra undersides of the slender leaves.rnI left the jeep at the trailhead on the nearrnside of the ford and eommenced walking,rntaking along only binoeulars and arnnew pair of ello\ elkhide gloves.rnI walked ver’ quickly up the trailrnthroueh the dark cold woods and acrossrnthe two shaded openings in the trees tornBear Trap Creek. The creek was highrnwith the late spring runoff, all the stepping-rnstones covered b domes of clearrnfoaming water. I walked straight throughrnit, feeling tlie snowmelt soak in aroundrnm- feet, and up the opposite bank inrnsquelching boots. On the grassy rise bevond,rna snag la’ across the base camprnwhere Koachcs used to put a huntingrntrailer before the Forest Service closedrnthe road, oerlooking the creek where itrndescends the steep-sided canyon. Beneathrnthe flooding, the changed meandersrncut since fall b’ the runoff showedrnplainh’. It was hot in the open bottom,rngoing between the willows growing overrnthe trail on the creek side and the wildflowersrnand sagebrush rising steeply withrnthe terrain on the other, and before I hadrnwalked half a mile the boots were dryrnand the socks inside them only damp.rnBaked by the sudden heat, the red clayrntrail fixing the tracks of deer and elk wasrnrigid underfoot. I pushed hard in spite ofrna bunged knee, drawing down air to thernbottom of my lungs and setting each footrnwell ahead of the other as I breasted thernslope: climbing back from the pale water’rngreen of northern Michigan wherernthings had not gone so w ell last weekend,rnespeeialh’ for the knee.rnHere in the canyon there was nornbreeze but the smell of the June sun onrnthe red cla and the black pine boughs.rnArrowleaf balsam bloomed yellow belowrnthe edge of purple cliff, and small butterfliesrnfluttered ahead as I walked in therntrail. I halted behind a flight of themrnand bent above the butterflies as theyrnfanned their wings, which were silverrnwith circumscribed spots on the undersidesrnand tender blue above. At a bendrnin the trail I started a young bull moose,rnhis paddles still in velvet and his springrncoat patchy with clumps of the deadrnwinter hair, from the creek where hernhad been taking a midafternoon drink.rnClimbing hard and watching, I had nornneed of thinking, and no desire to do it.rnThe restorative powers of nature: we reallyrndo need an environmentalist moemcnt.rnBut not this one.rnAs the snow melted out of the mountainsrnand the back country opened up,rnfox-faced urbanites were ‘enturing outrnof Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise, andrnPhoenix, into the Wyoming wilds. I metrnone this afternoon, driving his LandrnRover with a canoe strapped to the roof,rnon the road from Kemmerer, and deliberatelyrngave him false directions. He’srnprobably trapped in mud up a game trailrnright now, 100 miles from nowhere. Ofrncourse he was an environmentalist ofrnsome sort, gasoline-powered and withoutrna backpack and pitons. Alston Chasernmerely confirms what I have always suspected:rnthe environmentalist movementrnis essentially fraudulent, hypocritical,rndishonest—based on “science” it knowsrnto be false and pursuing agenda thatrnextend far beyond en-ironmental preservation.rnI keep pretty well abreast ofrnenvironmentalist literature, and environment-rnrelated stories in the press. Yet itrnwas news to me that, as Chase relates inrnhis new book,* the spotted owl is notrnendangered, and that the federal government’srndecision virtually to shut downrnthe logging industry in the Pacific Northwestrnwas made in full knowledge of thern*Alston Chase, In A Dark Wood: ThernFight Over Forests and the Rising Tyrannyrnof Ecology (Nev York: Houghton Mifflin,rn1995).rnfact. It also was news that old-growthrnforests in the region are, historicallyrnspeaking, a recent development, andrnthat the Northwest, at the time ofrnColumbus’s landfall on Hispaniola, hadrnsubstantially less forest cover than it doesrntoday. (The same is true of the rest ofrnthe North American continent.) Environmentalistsrnknow this, and so do thernfederal agencies that support the policiesrnenvironmentalists demand. They neverrntalk about it, however, and neither dornthe media and other representativesrnof the cultural, political, and financialrnestablishment that has made “ecosystemrnstabilization” and “preservation ofrnspecies” principal mantras of a popularrnreligion more respectable than Christianityrnand as superstitious as Hinduism.rnThe National En’ironmental Policy Actrnin 1969, and the Endangered SpeciesrnAct in 1973, were passed by Congressesrneager to demonstrate the fundamentalrnbenevolence of a government fighting arnbloody and unpopular war, but withoutrnimagination to foresee the disruptivernpotential of legislation that to them—rnand everyone else, including Americanrnindustry—seemed almost entirely symbolic,rnand completely unobjectionable.rnIt took about a decade for the import ofrnNEPA and ESA to sink in, and even thenrnnot everybody saw the light. Bill Clinton,rnfor instance, became President on arnpromise to find legislative solutions tornthe impasse between environmentallymindedrnfederal bureaucrats and thernWise Use rebels. Shortly after his takingrnoffice, however, the green lobby seems tornhave buttonholed him to explain therninfinite value of environmentalism torna national government dedicated tornextending its control, largely by stealth,rnover everything that walks, creeps, or hasrnits being in the United States of Americarn—and beyond it. The President, we allrnknow, is not a man who easily withstandsrntemptation.rnIndian Ridge appeared around a bendrnin the canyon, a steep backwall still coveredrnin snow and crested by snow cornices.rnClouds moved out from behindrnthe ridge, silver and white, piling high intornthe deep sky, imminent in their purityrnand detail through the vaporless atmosphere.rnI paused in the hollow wherernBear Trap diA erges from its tributary andrnSEPTEMBER 1996/49rnrnrn