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Git Home!



Style, charisma, attitude.

By C.J. Hadley

Style. Charisma. Attitude. Those are the words describing a miniature poodle judged best-in-show at the recent Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Three-year-old Surrey Spice Girl was coiffed to the bone, perfect, enticed with chicken to perform at peak, and she whipped 2,500 formidable wannabes by impressing a solitary judge.

Outranked, outnumbered, outsized, and outrageous, Judge W. Everett Dean Jr. said, “Every step was right. She was smooth, gorgeous.”

For nine years before “Spice” was even born, Range has attempted to emulate that tiny black girl’s attributes. We are still looking for her surprising success. Farmers, ranchers, loggers and miners are—much like Spice—outranked, outnumbered and outsized, and they often deal with the outrageous. Ten thousand people watched Spice prance in New York City and her odds were little better than they are for resource users.

Potshotted one at a time by well-educated do-gooders, ranchers and farmers are weak but are finally figuring out that strength will return if we stand together (see Terry Brown’s letter, page 9).

Style. Look at “Political Courage,” starting page 64. The feds have owned up to faulty science in Klamath Basin and opened the headgates to farmers who own the rights but were denied water at enormous cost to agriculture (and families) in 2001. Last issue feds backtracked because captive lynx hairs were added to rubbing posts by government scientists in Washington state to “prove” habitat.

Attitude. Check out Judge David Gamble, a western hero, who could not follow the instructions of Nevada’s Supreme Court, “because I wasn’t going to be the judge who so changed the water law in the West as to render state water rights meaningless.”

Charisma. Salivate while thinking of the extraordinary win in the federal claims court by rancher Wayne Hage and his family. Senior Judge Loren Smith ruled that Hage owns property rights—specifically water rights—on his grazing allotments and that “the government cannot deny citizens access to their vested water rights without providing a way for them to divert that water to another beneficial purpose if one exists.” The only thing left is to figure out how much the feds owe Hage for taking his private property.

Many of you know that it was June of 1989 when a handful of cowboys with attitude asked me to start Range. It has become the voice of the rural West. At the time I thought I was young, was a brunette, and had no idea what was happening to domestic food producers. I didn’t really think about where my meals were coming from.

I like beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, kidney and liver. Throw in spuds and a few veggies (hold the spice) and you’ve got a bloody good meal.

You could have blown me down with a feather when I learned that meat was coming from Argentina, milk from Europe and South America, strawberries from Mexico, and wolves from Canada. I would be faint for lack of nourishment if I had waited for “Made in the USA” labels on food. China. Africa. New Zealand. Australia. Canada. Latin and South America. The European Union. The South Pacific. Just about everyone is represented. Unfortunately, because of this and a “fair trade policy” American food producers continue to teeter on the brink of annihilation.

“Don’t worry,” says enviro do-gooder Andy Kerr, “the government will buy you out.” Without livestock on the land, he signified, America is going to be just about perfect. Pre-Columbian. Pre-white. Pre-what?

And talking about outranked, outnumbered, outsized...even George W. Bush makes no sense when he strokes The Nature Conservancy. We know with an annual budget of more than $700 million a lot of good work can be done, but inestimable harm can, too. TNC writes nice brochures and throws good parties that include Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, Ted Turner and other vociferous and aging fans. Everything TNC does is not virginal and more often than not their actions hurt rural communities. As Tim Findley writes, playing with The Nature Conservancy “is like taking a vulture for a pet.”

The keepers of western courage in this issue have what Spice has and sometimes they stick it in your face. It’s style, charisma, attitude.

Summer 2002 Contents | Git Home!

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