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2 1 6 WAL 3 3 ( 2 ) SUMMER 1 9 9 8 Reclaim ing the Native Home of Hope: Community, Ecology, and the Am erican W est. Edited by Robert Keiter. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1998. 178 pages, $17.95. Reviewed by John Freem uth Boise State University Wallace Stegner saw the American West as a touchstone for thinking about the kind of society we should desire. Now, Stegner himself has become the touchstone for these thoughts. The University of Utah has offered up a book based on the first two symposia held at the College of Law’s Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment. Edited by Utah law professor Robert Keiter and titled after one of Stegner’s best-known phrases, Reclaiming the Native Home of Hope offers a number of different perspectives: law, federal land management, personal experience, history, and economics, to name a few. A s in any book of essays, some are stronger than others, but collectively they offer a somewhat diverse per­ spective on the American West and how we might want to think about it. A s a professor of political science, I approach this book with my own set of biases. As someone working, writing, and “professing” in the area of federal land policy, I often struggle with what might be termed the “politics of how to get there.” That is, there are many wonderful essays both here and elsewhere on the West and its people and places, but oftentimes the hard work of creating the politics and then the solutions which realize Stegner’s “native home of hope” is not discussed. Or if it is, clichés and arrogance trivialize the issue. Consider two essays in this book, both about U tah’s Colorado Plateau. Brad Barber and Aaron Clark’s “Reconciling Environmental Preservation and Economic Sustainability on U tah’s Colorado Plateau: The State’s Per­ spective” reminds us of one of the truths of land policy: “On the other side of the wilderness debate are those who seem to have limited empathy of the concerns of rural Utahans” (99-100). But the essay does not turn into a “woe is us in the rural West” complaint. Rather, it discusses legislation like the rural resettlement law passed in Utah whose intent is “to create desig­ nations, modeled after existing enterprise zones, which target incentives toward Utah businesses. . . . These zones will offer incentives to Utah busi­ nesses that expand or relocate . . . to qualifying rural locations” (102-3). The authors later suggest that such new industries not as affected by land preservation policies will perhaps grow into the conviction that preserva­ tion might be in their best interest. Contrast this approach to that of Charles Wilkinson’s “Filling up the Eye and Overflowing the Soul: Sustainability on Utah’s Colorado Plateau.” Wilkinson writes with the eye of a visitor who doesn’t see much on the ground. With the voice of a comfortable Boulder law professor, he urges that B o o k R e v ie w s 2 1 7 “we should not even repair rickety old bridges, not even the one over the San Juan River at Mexican Hat” (96). This tradition of contempt for towns like Mexican Hat is a growing one. I recall similar arguments made during the creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Certain environ­ mentalist proponents of the area argued that a road to the Maze Overlook was a virtue of the area and should be there for people who could not hike into the Maze. Once the area was under the National Park Service man­ agement, these same people urged that the road be closed because the area had suddenly become “sacred.” O f course, roads to wilderness trailheads should remain open. Wilkinson is usually worth reading, but he disappoints us here. There are other essays that help triangulate the West. Doug Honnold, in “Wolves, Bears, and the Spirit of the Wild: Asking the Right Questions,” tells the wonderful story of the grizzly bear and the plant sweet cicely. For many years biologists had found that bears did not eat this plant. Then, in the eleventh year of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 216-218
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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