Daryl L. Hunters Last Column For JH Weekly
By Daryl L. Hunter

For the past six months Planet Jackson Hole has provided me the opportunity to point out many wrongs, as I perceive them in our dynamic and rapidly changing area.

Most of our new residents, of the Greater Yellowstone Region, having been impressed by the area enough to move here, but upon arrival, they attack the logging industry that provided the logs for their cabins, condemned the landowners for subdividing their land, forbade the development of gravel pits for the construction of their roads, and exasperated a land shortage by limiting the height of buildings. It has been a pleasure to point out this hypocrisy and hopefully trigger introspection and intellectual honesty.

I hope that I have opened a window so our many newcomers can look at some of the endangered, traditional professions with empathy instead of scorn. How prudent logging practices can enhance our forests and protect our communities from wildfire, while preserving an honorable way of life. How public land ranching can preserve the green space of our valley bottoms if we continue to let ranchers graze our public lands.

I hope there is a new empathy for entrepreneurs who, over the years, have spent their lives developing tourist facilitation services that some newcomers don't agree with such as, snowmobile tourism, and heli-skiing. The environmentalist's exponentially expansive armada of Subarus is infinitely more damaging to our environment than a few snowmobile trips to Yellowstone or heli-ski tracks in our mountains.

I hope that I have convinced some that a few wolves and grizzlies are a good thing, but if we host to many of them they will destroy the income of our open space stewards, endanger our walks in the woods, and may pluck our children from our yards. I hope that someday Native Americans can hunt bison in Yellowstone.

So much of our local politics, in our beautiful area, is tied to the environment, green space, endangered and recovering species, and growth. I have grown weary of addressing it. The well meaning, but short sighted, people that need to listen most are deaf in one ear and refuse to listen with the other, environmentalists, the new pagans, being faith based, are unreasonable as is the nature of faith.

We must acknowledge landowners have rights. If they want to subdivide their land to make room for your cousin/sibling/friend to move here, we need to extend that fundamental right to the landowner. If we don't want them to develop, it is incumbent upon those who protest, to purchase it for green space, not lawyer them into bankruptcy.

The law of unintended consequences must play a bigger factor in the planning process; however, I realize that it is difficult to factor future ignorance, but the effort should be made.

Many of the environmentally conscious I have had discussions with who criticize, forest usage, and entrepreneurial exploitation of our resources somehow believe they have more of a right to an existence here because they are environmentalists. When I point out it isn't public land ranchers, miners, and loggers that have are the biggest destructive impact on the land in the Greater Yellowstone region they are incredulous. When I point out that them and I, the newcomers, are the biggest destructive force to the ecosystem they are taken aback because they as environmentally conscious couldn't possibly be a problem. The flood of us newbie's who devour the cattle ranches and farms are the locusts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Well I am growing weary, for now, of delving into negativity, selfishness, shortsightedness, it is time for me to escape into the mountains so I can write about our embarrassment of natural riches for my website. It is time for me to redirect my energy into the positivity of our regions beauty and turn my back on, what seems to me, like a bunch of selfish siblings arguing over the pie of a recently deceased relative.

I hope Mary Grossman the Publisher of the Planet, can find another writer who can speak up for the rights of the families who have hammered out a living here for a hundred years. Voice some food for thought in the environmental debate, and be able to articulate the paradoxes and dichotomies of our community's growing pains. It is easy to find a starry eyed newcomer that wants to save the world; it is a little tougher to find someone that wants to save a way of life.

The real reason I had to leave Planet Jackson Hole was different.

Last Thanksgiving I wrote a letter to the editor about Thanksgiving and our troops, giving them thanks for their service and sacrifice; a national subject. That is when Planet Publisher, Mary Grossman asked whether I would be interested in writing for the Planet. She explained she was seeking balance for her paper because her editors and writers were left of center, and she needed a conservative writer to bring balance to the paper.

Since then I have written about local energy production, alternative energy, animal issues, forest issues, development issues, cowboys, Christmas, public land ranching, Memorial Day, logging, Wyoming legislation and some of my articles are about the world.

My first interest is how the USA interacts with the world and how the liberal/conservative dichotomy effect it. My second is my world in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and how the liberal/conservative dichotomy affect it.

I sometimes have a hard time trying to figure out what I want to write about. Sometimes there is a big and obvious issue, often times there isn't. Most of what I write is local stuff but when a milestone is reached in Iraq, I wanted to be able to write about it. When a holiday rolls around that calls for reflection, I wanted to write a reflection about it. When Dick Cheney accidentally shoots a friend and I write an empathetic piece that makes Cheney appear human; I would like to see it printed. When I read the Planet editors side with the New York Times' Dana Priest about the merits of sabotaging covert intelligence operations in the War on Terror, I become infuriated and want to address it. When I speculate when Dick Cheney will be in town, I would like to write something that will catch his attention and maybe then we could get an interview someday. All Planet reporters and editors slam from the left about national issues, yet I was to be restricted to local issues.

Being fenced into subject matter strictly of a local nature and being restricted from taking pot shots at Washington and the media, or support the effort of our president and troops every now and then seemed to me equitable to a pay cut from a compensation package.

Writers write because something burns inside them to say what they feel. The removal of my ability to address what I believed needed to be said made me lose interest in digging ever deeper into local issues I haven't covered yet or how to cover the ones I already have in a new way. If I can't sometimes voice what really interests me and have to restrict myself to what interests me less is a dynamic that can only end in boredom.

Planet Publisher, Mary Grossman's reasoning to keep it local is; there are dozens of conservative writers in Washington and New York that specialize in the minutiae of international issues as that is their full time job, therefore, they can say it best. Although her argument has validity, the beltway writers may be able to write about national issues better, but I told Mary, I think, a local's take on national issues has merit as it is home grown opinion that the followers of a local columnist could identify with. The leftist in Moose, the family in Victor, the environmentalist in Jackson, or the rancher from Star Valley may value or abhor a locals take on things, however, I think that, although it has less polish, its home grown value makes up for it, especially if it had already been written about by other Planet writers.

I wrote an article for the Fourth of July issue about our freedom of press and freedom of speech that the editor refused to publish; it included conservative balance to national issues that had been written about in the Planet.

I was asked to come on board to bring balance to the paper and due to reasons out of my control; I have failed to do so. Since I couldn't bring comprehensive balance to the Planet, I felt compelled to leave.

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