OPINIONSrnThe Survival of the Fattestrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rn”Pity the man who loves what death can touch.’rn—Eugene O’NeillrnThe Last Refuge: The EnvironmentalrnShowdown in Yellowstonernand the American Westrnby Jim RobbinsrnNew York: William Morrow;rn272 pp., $23.00rnLate one summer afternoon, tiredrnand dirty after four days’ campingrnand a 21-mile ride out of the Wind RiverrnMountains over rough granite trails, 1rnswung off the horse and opened the registryrnbook that the National Forest Servicernplaces at the boundary of its federallyrndesignated wilderness areas. Since 1rnhadn’t signed in, 1 couldn’t sign out, butrna friend had suggested that 1 wouldrnbe interested in reading the commentsrnobediently inscribed by visitors to thernBridger-Teton Wilderness from Philadelphia,rnNew York, Denver, and San Mateo.rnI opened the book and read: “Get horsesrnout of pristine wilderness!” “Horserncrap on trails spoiled our trip!” “Amen!”rnToo bad. Using the pencil-on-a-stringrnthoughtfully provided by local agents ofrnour masters in Washington, I appended,rn”Kids in short pants and sneakers out ofrnwilderness! Easterners and Californiansrngo home! Get a horse.” Approachingrnthe trailhead, I met a pretty gid backpacker,rninbound for the mountains, whornrefused to speak or even look at me. Itrnmight have been because I smelled bad,rnbut more likely it was that I happened tornbe riding a horse.rnThe Gold War never died, it moved tornthe Rocky Mountain states of the AmericanrnWest, which have lately been discoveredrnby yuppies, computer programmers,rnand celebrities from around thernrest of the country but mainly from California,rnarriving to complement the en-rnChilton Williamson, jr., is senior editorrnfor books at Ghronicles.rn’ironmentalists who moved here in thern1970’s. The fact having come to thernattention of the national media, it wasrnrecently celebrated b a cover stor’ inrnTime and applauded by an editorial inrnNational Review, but it is no news tornlongtime residents of Montana, Idaho,rnWyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New-rnMexico, where stories have been passingrnup and down the continental spinernfor two or three years now. The talcs arernof strangers invading isolated Westernrntowns where thcv buy up ranches, openrncappuccino bars, and drive up propert’rnvalues and taxes: aliens from the farrnWest, usually dressed in baggy shortsrnand riding mountain bikes but not infrequentlyrnaccoutred in Western outfitsrnb- Ralph Lauren—who recently boughtrnan enormous ranch near Ridgeway, Colorado,rnwhich he visits a few times a yearrnby Lear jet—and driving BMWs.rnThough the coal town of Kemmerer,rnWoming, where I live is too homelyrnand surrounded by too much sagebrushrnand bentonite to have to worrv about attractingrnthe attention of sophisticates,rnthe owner of the Red Dog Saloon inrnCokeville, a ranching town of 1,500 peoplern45 miles away on the Idaho border,rnreports that the local Chamber ofrnCommerce averaged 13 calls a week thisrnsummer from Californians looking tornrelocate there. Fortunately, the landrnsurrounding Cokeville is entailed byrnprospering ranchers and bv the federalrngovernment, so the likelihood is theyrnwill be forced to buy elsewhere, as I hopernthey do. British Columbia, for instance,rnif it hasn’t already taken in too mam’rnChinese and Vietnamese immigrants.rnWhile the Time piece comes as nornsurprise out here, it was an unpleasantrnshock to those of us who, having survivedrnthe Great Rocky Mountain Energ’rnBoom of the late 1970’s and early 80’srnand watched the multinational companiesrncut bait and run following the Bustrnof ’83, were unrealistic enough to hopernthat the rest of the collapsing AmericanrnRepublic would forget all about us forrnthe next hundred or so years. While thernboom had been welcomed unreservedlyrnby state politicians, local Chambers ofrnCommerce, and the energy companiesrnthemselves, it was deplored by environmentalists,rnmam ranchers, and moderaternconservationists, as well as by misfitsrnholed up in mountain cabins and literaryrncranks like Edward Abbey and WallacernStegner, both since removed to the con-rn30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn