Traditional uses

Bruce Babbitt, former governor of Arizona, says it won't be easy to tap wind and solar energy sources in the West while at the same time preserving wildlife, native cultural sites and landscape views across millions of acres.

The key, he told the Review-Journal last weekend, is for the Bureau of Land Management to adopt "better policies" to ensure those treasures are preserved when it comes time to develop solar, wind and geothermal power on public lands.

Mr. Babbitt, who served as Interior secretary under President Bill Clinton, represented the Colorado-based Conservation Lands Foundation at the third annual "Friends Rendezvous" that began Friday in Las Vegas.

"It's not about kicking everybody off the land. It's about protecting traditional uses of the land," Mr. Babbitt asserted. "And it's not about building all of the infrastructure that comes with a national park. It's about getting the community behind it and protecting traditional uses."


There's scenic splendor in the West, certainly. Most Westerners are also happy to see the recovery of bison, eagle, and other species once over-hunted.

But unfortunately, if we're discussing many who have dominated the environmental movement in recent years, Mr. Babbitt is wrong: it certainly has been "about kicking everybody off the land."

Throughout the West, an ongoing government campaign -- backed by the eco-extremists -- digs pits or places boulders to block access to unpaved roads or trails to block their "traditional use" by off-road vehicles. While he was Interior Secretary, Mr. Babbitt participated in many a public-relations stunt in which he pretended to hand checks the size of surfboards to various mining interests, claiming these were the "subsidies" the taxpayers provided these risk-takers and job-creators by "not charging them enough" for mining permits.

The green extreme seeks to drive up the costs of fossil fuels. But we shall see just how "cooperative" they prove when it comes time for them to forgo their next lawsuit, their next attempt to block development of the next alternative energy resource by claiming it threatens some previously unknown weed or bug, or -- heaven forfend -- "landscape views across millions of acres."