Back to the Source

I thought you would be interested in knowing the original source of Ted Williams’s sentence “As the old saw goes, ‘No one’s making new land these days’ ” [America’s River, May-June]. It comes from Will Rogers, the great American humorist, who said, “Buy land; they ain’t makin’ any more of it.”

Marcie Waterman Murray
Stanfordville, NY


Finding a Middle Pasture?

Reading Ted Williams’s Incite [“Sacred Cows,” March-April], I thought it must be 1980 in America. Williams’s essay drives a wedge between two groups—environmentalists and ranchers—that should be natural allies. Half of the West is private land—land that is the most biologically productive, has the deepest soils, and is better watered than the half in the public domain. The ranchers that graze on the West’s public lands own approximately 107 million acres of the private lands, most of which serve as buffers against the harmful effects of development that is increasingly making islands of our protected areas. Although ranchers are compensated for the food they produce, they provide open space and wildlife habitat at little cost to society. This does not mean that ranchers should get a free pass. They will have to change, perhaps more than any of us. Across America, more and more ranchers are not only altering how they husband their livestock, they are organizing to protect their private lands. Presently, six western states have agricultural land trusts, rancher-organized and administered. As of last year they had protected over 1 million acres of private land in conservation easements. I invite Williams to leave his tired, old position on the far left and join the increasing number of us in the “radical center.”

Richard L. Knight
Professor of Wildlife Conservation
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO

Ted Williams responds:
The “wedge” that Professor Knight imagines I have driven between environmentalists and ranchers consists of facts some of the latter don’t want to know. He has it right about the open space all ranchers protect, but that’s precisely why those working to scuttle the only possible salvation of their moribund industry (the National Environmental Policy Act) must reverse course. The need to use and preserve NEPA—the thrust of my piece—is not a “radical” notion owned by the “far left.” NEPA was promoted by Republicans, passed by a Republican Congress, and signed into law by a Republican President.


Reconciliation of the sophomoric dispute between Ronald Ericsson and Ted Williams [Letters, May-June] would come from their visiting with such people as Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, and rancher Jim Van Winkle of the Sandhills Task Force. They exemplify the partnering between ranchers and conservation interests to manage the vast virgin grasslands of Nebraska’s Sandhills for the benefit of all life.

The Reverend Roger W. Verley
Annandale, VA

Ted Williams responds:
I am at a loss as to why the Reverend Verley considers my response or even Ericsson’s letter “sophomoric.” And while cattle can be a useful wildlife management tool (in cattail control, for example), they cannot “benefit” a “virgin grassland” or its native ecosystem.


Keep It Up

Kudos on the March-April Audubon. Sometimes the issues seem so filled with gloom and doom that I can hardly bear to read them. I know that we need to be aware of the problems—there certainly are enough of them—but we also need to be able to celebrate the good news and the victories so that we are motivated to keep up our efforts to correct the problems. That said, I did enjoy “Sacred Cows.” The article gives news about some of the tactics that are working, and that is always useful and heartening.

Jane K. Ward
Durango, IA

Fair Is Fair

Audubon and Ted Williams in his Incite column [“Public Menace,” July-August 2005] have been leading the fight to kill more deer in the forests, in state game lands, and on private property throughout Pennsylvania. The reasoning goes that deer are causing severe damage to the landscape, which in turn is leading to reduced numbers of birds over the entire state. Since this has resulted in a large reduction of deer where I live, thereby saving the environment for more birds, could you please direct me to some of your preserves so that I can return the favor by thinning your deer herd? I am sure you would want to practice what you preach.

Thomas Bailey
Youngsville, PA



Audubon Pennsylvania responds:
Thank you for your letter. Yes, we do practice what we preach. In fact, I harvested three deer last season, including two at an Important Bird Area (IBA). To learn more about Pennsylvania’s 82 IBAs, many of which are open to public hunting, visit http://pa.audubon.org/iba/.

—Timothy D. Schaeffer, Executive Director



Beyond Preservation

Regarding the piece on the Rockefellers’ legacy [“Doing the Right Thing,” November-December 2005]: Yes, it was certainly admirable to have secured and preserved the various large, treasured natural areas. However, there are things that we can continue to improve upon. What was nearly unthinkable in regards to the availability of oil as the automobile came into use in this country now is painfully obvious, as are the environmental and health costs of continuing to use oil. We can now, even as Thomas Edison earlier advocated, utilize electricity as our primary transportation power source, and generate a good deal of our electricity from solar, tidal, and similar lower-impact means. As our health—and the environment’s health—benefits from changing our fuel, we can encourage smarter development: housing that utilizes passive solar design and greater use of natural building materials and solar roofing. We can adopt commercial and residential design that facilitates easier walking and other alternative transportation, all in a more natural setting, enabling us to enjoy the environment rather than destroy it.

Don Chlebina
Fairlawn, OH


Don't Forget to Write

Send letters via postage-saving e-mail to editor@audubon.org, or by mail to Editor, Audubon, 225 Varick St. 7th Floor, New York, NY 10014. Include the correct spelling of your full name, city, and state.

© 2006 National Audubon Society

Sound off! Send a letter to the editor about this piece.

Enjoy Audubon on-line? Check out our print edition!