Newsweek: War for the West

« back

For two decades, I’ve traveled around the Western U.S. from the panhandle of Idaho to the bootheel of New Mexico, witnessing this country’s ongoing struggles with how to manage its vast network of public lands.  We seem to agree that our national parks are “America’s best idea,” as filmmaker Ken Burns put it.  But the rest of America’s patchwork of national forests, Bureau of Land Management ranges, National Wildlife Service refuges, Indian reservations and other public lands are managed under contradictory mandates to both protect and exploit.   It’s called “multiple use,” and in a West struggling to merge its pioneer past and modem cowboy present, conflict remains a constant theme.