Like no other region of the United States, the West is dominated by its landscape. The natural setting is close to the hearts of the people, and natural resources drive society intellectually and emotionally as well as economically. It is a place ripe for conflict between those who wish to reap the natural wealth of the land and those who wish to preserve the region in a pure and untrammeled state. Governing this volatile situation are what Charles F. Wilkinson calls the "lords of yesterday" - laws, policies, and ideas that arose out of nineteenth-century westward expansion and still wield extraordinary influence. While the societal and historical contexts have changed, the regulations governing mining, ranching, forestry, and water use for the most part have remained intact. These critical issues are difficult to comprehend, and public awareness of them is astonishingly, and dangerously, low. In Crossing the Next Meridian, Wilkinson explains to a general audience some of the core problems that face the American West, both now and in the years to come. An expert on federal public lands, Native American issues, and the West's arcane water laws, Wilkinson looks at the outmoded ideas that pervade land use and resource allocation. He argues that significant reform of Western law is needed to combat environmental decline and heal splintered communities. Interweaving legal history with examples of present-day consequences, both intended and unintended, Wilkinson traces the origins and development of Western laws and regulations. He relates stories of Westerners who face these issues on a day-to-day basis and discusses what can and should be done to bring government policies in line with the reality of twentieth-century American life. His examination seeks a middle ground between those who champion unrestricted growth and those who advocate complete preservation. In an engaging and thought-provoking analysis, Wilkinson juxtaposes historical and contemporary Western settings to explain some of the West's most fundamental and complex problems and to outline potential solutions.
1. The Lords of Yesterday -- 2. The Miner's Law -- 3. The Rancher's Code -- 4. Forests for the Home-Builder First of All -- 5. "The River Was Crouded with Salmon" -- 6. Harvesting the April Rivers -- 7. Crossing the Next Meridian
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