New West Microcosm

I have been promoted.

The other day I was compared to and quoted on the same page as Yvon Chouinard and Peter Metcalf. Chouinard has never heard of me and Metcalf might have to be reminded, but I will take it as my moment of greatness anyway. I guy now from Monticello, from Moab before that, and perhaps New Jersey originally, got worked up about a comment I made about not wanting a gravel pit in Torrey-Teasdale on a Facebook post of his and he dedicated an article on me (and Yvon and Peter) in a faux objective, compulsively contrarian piece. The unhappy guy refers to himself as a journalist and considered reporting about me his duty. So as not to seem too flattered by the attention, I admit he comes across more as a committed victim than he does as an objective journalist.

Superbowl Sunday hike.

The worst place in the world for a cow.

The perturbed scrivener says I want to “urbanize” the rural West. His word, not mine. He does not like me calling the red conservative values of rural Utah an “enemy” to my blue conservation values. He tells me he likes his Mormon rancher neighbors and that I am cold hearted not to like them too. And he quotes Edward Abbey, ironically enough, quite often.

A rancher is a farmer who farms the public lands with a herd of four legged lawn mowers. 

The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws.

The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stock ponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies – and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West. 

— Edward Abbey 

None of the above were among the fellow’s Abbey quotes.

Nothing has changed since Abbey penned these words. I am fond of saying a person is best judged by their actions and I judge public lands ranchers accordingly. Nothing is harder on the public lands of the West than livestock grazing. The latest rate to graze a cow for a month on public lands is 93 cents, 37 cents for sheep. And every time it doesn’t rain, which is most of the time in the arid West, ranchers get taxpayer funded drought relief. Their fences, cattle guards and water works are tax payer subsidized. And public lands ranchers complain endlessly about the federal government. So, yeah, I tend to detest public lands welfare ranchers. I will spare you Abbey quotes about welfare queens (The Fool’s Progress).

Wayne County, Utah is run by ranchers. The county seat is Loa, a Mormon agricultural town, and the Loa precinct voted 96 percent for Trump. If I have not been clear, I detest Trump. So there is that.

And so, flattered and newly energized, I continue to contemplate ways to conserve the delicate landscape and cease subsidizing its destruction. There is much work to be done. Peter, Yvon, let’s get on it boys.

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