Ranchers and John Muir’s Universal

Since we are all reading Friction together, I thought I’d share one of those moments of recognition – when you have just been reading about something that happened a long time ago and it suddenly seems very immediate and present. Tsing, discussing the creation of “Nature” as a universal and the history of nature loving in the United States, brings up John Muir. On page 99 she writes:

Ranchers were Muir’s most explicit enemies; ranchers used the wilderness rather than experiencing or studying it. They were cut off from the universal; they destroyed it through inattention.

That passange had stuck in my mind, and so when I heard this NPR story about contemporary conflict between naturalists and ranchers it caught my attention. Here is the same story as written up in the Washington Post:

A conservationist group is asking a federal court to block new grazing regulations that it contends would give ranchers more water rights and control over public lands.

The Bureau of Land Management announced the final rules Wednesday, and they are to go into effect next month. First proposed in December 2003, the regulations would increase collaboration between the agency and ranchers whose livestock graze on 160 million acres of the nation’s public lands.

John Muir would roll over in his grave!

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