and snowcovered mountains in thernbackground, an idyll inspired, the writerrnexplained, by the film A River RunsrnThrough It, filmed in Montana. That’srnsomething. A rich dude in Beverly Hillsrnor Dallas sees a movie one night andrngoes out the next day to whack himselfrnoff a big chunk of God’s Greatest MoviernSet! There really is such a thing asrnhaving too much money.rnLand is more than a living for thernrancher or private lumberman. It is survivalrnitself, as it was for the red manrnwhose relationship to the earth is held uprnas a model by some environmentalistsrnand all Deep Ecologists. Human beings,rnin order to know the land they live on,rnmust experience it through the kind ofrnintimate contact that only hard laborrnmakes possible. However much thernWesterner may, wittingl)’ or unwittingly,rnabuse it, his relationship to the naturalrnworld is the opposite of frivolous. For thernNew Westerner, by contrast, land is nornmore than a real estate commodity, arnplayground, or a fantasy. He is not lookingrnfor a region, he wants a DisneylandrnWest or a Malibu-in-the-Rockies, wherernLIBERAL ARTSrnFOLLOWING AMERICA’SrnLEADrn”Why do we love to celebrate sornmuch if we live so poorlv?” asked ViktorrnLoshak recently in the MoscowrnNews, referring to the many holidaysrnhonored by Russians. In addition torntheir October Revolution, Russiansrnnow take time off for religious holidays,rnsuch as Russian OrthodoxrnChristmas on Januat)- 7, and new politicalrnholidays like the one markingrnRussia’s sovereignty on June 12. “Anrnextra day off is tantamount to takingrnanother 100 billion or 200 billionrnrubles out of the countrv’s budget,”rnargues Loshak. “Telling the countryrnthat it has not yet earned itsrnpromised vacations would requirerncourage and would offer a uniquernchance to the opposition.”rnhe makes an ass of himself by wearing sillyrnclothes and riding a mountain bikerninstead of a good quarter-horse. Hernfences his property closely against hisrnneighbors, obliious to the fact that he isrnblocking access to publicly owned lands,rnand throws his weight behind the “CattlernFree in ’93” people, since cowpies arernan offense to him when he goes hiking orrnjogging. He is opposed to hunting andrnprotests the shooting of bison outsidernthe Yellowstone, because his wife is a lifernmember (if there is such a thing) of thernFund for Animals and his daughters havernbeen raised on Bambi stories and wildlifernepisodes on the Discovery Channel. Becausernof the remote and essentially abstractrnnature of his work, often handledrnby telecommunication with corporaternoffices in New York or Los Angeles, hernhas nothing in common with and no tiernto the community in which he findsrnhimself, and restricted contact with itsrnmembers. He is against not only “development”rnor “progress” but every honestrnacti ity that for Westerners has alwavsrnmeant well-being and bedrock security.rnRather than eat at the local steak house,rnhe makes an hour’s drive to a nearby citvrnor ski resort or country club to wine andrndine with his own kind in an expensivernrestaurant; bored and lonely among thernblue-collar rubes, he works hard to encouragernmore of the Beautiful Peoplernfrom home to buv up land around him,rndriving propert’ values and taxes to thernpoint where, as in Jackson, Wyoming,rnand Vail, Colorado, the locals can nornlonger afford to live in their own town.rnOften after a couple of years or so, fed uprnwith the isolation and depressed by thernlong hard winters, he packs it in andrnmoves to some choice and still miraculouslyrnunspoiled place back in California.rnBut not often enough.rnEqually with Time, The Last Refugernhas nothing to tell the seasoned Westernerrnwho is a careful reader of his staternand local newspaper and has stayedrnabreast of such topics as Crown Butte,rnthe reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone,rnclear-cutting in the TarghecrnNational Forest, overcrowding in thernWest’s national parks, the competitionrnfor water rights between agriculturalistsrnand municipalities, the gcntrification ofrnhonest Western towns, and the bullyingrnof ranchers by industrial corporations.rnBut Robbins is comprehensive, and hisrnsuggestion that preserving the GreaterrnYellowstone (comprising 18 million acresrnor 28 thousand square miles) as thernlargest fundamentally intact ecosvstemrnin the world might result in compromisernthat could fuse the traditions of the OldrnWest with the innovations of the New isrnan interesting idea supportive of hope.rnBetween People for the American West!,rnthe “wise use” movement, the Centerrnfor the Defense of Economic Freedom,rnand the Wyoming Heritage Foundationrn—avatars all of the old rapaciousnessrnand greed—and graduates of thernGreener Pastures Institute, there is littlernor nothing to choose from, making anyrnhalfway plausible third way vorth- of arnsecond look. Robbins’ thinking owesrnmuch to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition,rnbased in Bozeman, Montana, andrndirected by Louisa Willcox, a famousrnlady in these parts. Unlike many environmentalists,rnthe GYC, Robbins says,rndoes not propose to ban logging, ranching,rnand mining on public lands butrnrather “to convince loggers and minersrnand real estate developers and those involvedrnwith tourism to operate on a scientific,rnsustainable basis that will allowrnthem to continue generation after generation.rnIt has to happen in a way thatrnstops the destruction and squanderingrnnot only of the New West economy, butrnof the Old West economy as well.”rnProposals being debated by the UnitedrnStates Congress to multiply the grazingrnfees charged to ranchers running cattlernon federalh’ owned lands and tornoverhaul laws pertaining to water rightsrnand usage arc rightly seen here as nornmore than thinly veiled schemes to turnrnthe Rocky Mountain states into a themernpark and playground for the rest of therncountry, while stealing their scarcernlifeblood for sale to Cities of the Plain inrnCalifornia, Nevada, and Arizona. Therncontemporary American psyche resistsrnrealit)- in ever form. Small wonder thatrnit has targeted for destruction all thatrnremains of the Old America, where menrnand women and children for generationsrnhave been accustomed to living not inrnthe state of nature but in that naturallyrnhuman state blessed bv nature as well asrnby nature’s God. After all these years,rnthe American infatuation with the frontierrnturns out to be mere self-delusion.rnAmerica’s idyll is not the frontier, and itrncertainly is not wilderness. It is a suburbanrnhouse on a subdi’ided tract with arnpicture window and a John Wayne moviernon the VCR, an artificially preservedrn”wilderness” with a bureaucratic fencernaround it and no guns or horses allowed.rn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn