Natural Resources and the Environment

Caryn E. Neumann

In: Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West

Natural Resources and the Environment

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  • The American West is the home of incredible beauty. It is the land of big sky, giant sequoias, ancient pueblos, scenic rivers, and stunning canyons. It has attracted settlers and awed visitors since time immemorial. Yet the West has also been the site of considerable political conflict over natural resources. Nature has long been viewed as a commodity, something to be used for the benefit of humans. By controlling water, managing forests, slaughtering bison, poisoning coyotes, and mining for minerals, humans have dramatically altered western ecosystems. Much of the natural ecosystem of the West has been lost as humans have shaped the environment to their needs.

    Yet there is hope that damaged ecosystems can be restored, if there is public will to do so. Although some ...

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