Unless you count the spotted owl, the war for the West hasn't really produced any household names yet. But it's not for a lack of candidates. On all sides are colorful, impassioned advocates who use the eloquence of their pen, the clout of their office or just the sheer gutsiness of a nose-to-nose confrontation to score points for their cause. A look at some leading movers and shakers in the West:
Traditionally, environmentalists pursue a policy of polarization-no negotiation with the enemy. "Cumulatively the movement is interested in shutting down the timber industry," says Portland-based activist Randal O'Toole. But a whiff of conciliation is in the air. O'Toole, 38, thinks polarization is as outdated as perestroika. By realistically analyzing budgets on both sides, he says, "We can have all the environmental amenities, and all the timber we want."
Some environmentalists are bypassing rhetoric for direct contact. Part of a new breed of environmentalist ranchers, Oregonians Doc and Connie Hatfield travel around the West promoting protection of riparian zones and new techniques in livestock production. Others started inside the system. When he worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Jeff DeBonis of Eugene, Ore., circulated a memo in the agency's computer network that criticized the government's pro-timber policies. He created an "ethical union" of like-minded USFS employees, then later left government service to become an independent advocate.
Many activists still pursue a hard line. An ardent defender of the Yellowstone ecosystem, Louisa Wilcox, 37, of Livingston, Mont., wants to limit logging, mining and other human intrusion in "buffer zones" around national parks-a boon to grizzly bear survival.
Charles Cushman's headquarters are in Battle Ground, Wash., an apt reflection of his feisty image. Cushman, 48, is a self-appointed spokesman for the workers-miners, loggers and ranch hands-whose jobs are threatened by preservationism. FOR SOME PEOPLE, EARTH DAY WAS PAY DAY said Cushman's 1990 ad in The Washington Post. In an infamous ambush, Cushman sent a 6-foot-9, 320-pound logger, armed with a chainsaw, to a pro-environment congressman's office. The intruder wore a sandwich board that said, I WANT TO BE RETRAINED. I WANT TO BE CONGRESSMAN [RON] WYDEN'S BRAIN SURGEON.
Taking a more conventional tack is Karen Budd, 32, an attorney from Cheyenne, Wyo. The daughter of cattle ranchers, she went to law school specifically to become a federal-lands attorney representing the livestock industry. "All my life I watched the federal agencies push these guys around," she says. Now, Budd has become the hired gun of choice for ranchers facing court action from federal agencies. Hoping to make the court system work for him is New Mexico rancher Budd Eppers. Eppers wants to take a test case to the Supreme Court to validate the legal principle of the "split estate," which means water, oil, gas, grazing and mineral rights can pass to heirs even if the land belongs to someone else.
Sometimes Republicans believe in quotas. Last May, U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, 46, of Idaho wrote to the head of the U.S. Forest Service to complain that national forests in his home state weren't meeting their timber-harvest quotas. The letter was made public, and an editorial in an Idaho newspaper wondered, "Why doesn't Craig order trees to grow faster?"
Preservationists have a powerful ally in Colorado Democratic Sen. Timothy Wirth. A member of the Senate Energy Committee, Wirth regularly sounds the alarm about global warming and other ecological issues. In the House, California Rep. George Miller replaced retiring Arizona Democrat Mo Udall as chairman of the House Interior Committee. Miller is an outspoken environmentalist and is expected to stack the panel with sympathetic colleagues.
Colorado Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, 58, is currently the only Native American in Congress, but he could be joined in a few years by Larry EchoHawk. Descended from a Pawnee scout for the U.S. Army, EchoHawk, 43, was elected attorney general of Idaho last year-making him one of the few Native Americans to ever win a statewide election. Since taking office, EchoHawk has "reluctantly" found himself at odds with the tribes for putting limits on salmon fishing; the runs have been depleted in part because manmade dams created obstacles for spawning salmon to swim upstream. In his official role, EchoHawk could someday find himself squared off against his brother John, head of the Native American Rights Fund.
If Variety is the bible of show business, High Country News is a must for anyone following land-use issues west of the 100th meridian. A biweekly newspaper published by Ed and Betsy Marston in Paonia, Colo., the paper takes an aggressively pro-environmentalist editorial position. An ascendant environmental voice is Donald Snow, editor of Northern Lights in Missoula, Mont. Across the ideological fence is Fred Wortham Jr., editor of the Denver-based Western Livestock Journal, which rallies ranchers to organize against environmentalists.
San Francisco writer Marc Reisner, whose "Cadillac Desert" is the definitive work on the West's water crisis, sounds a new alarm in his new "Game Wars," a book about wildlife poaching. One of the West's most striking new writers is essayist Terry Tempest Williams, 35, a naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City. In her autobiographical book, "Refuge," she writes about the ravages of cancer on the women in a family that lived downwind from the Utah nuclear-test sites in the 1950s.