In his through-the-looking-glass assessment of the environmental state of the western U.S., Pendley, lawyer and former assistant to Interior Secretary James Watt, gets just about everything completely backwards. His absurd contention is that environmentalists, whom he consistently calls ``environmental extremists,'' and government officials (including those in the Bush administration) have banded together in a conspiracy to depopulate the West, keep visitors from our national parks and ``put an end to modern civilization.'' Chapters focus on logging, grazing, mining, water rights, tourism and the Endangered Species Act and abound with assertions that are either unsubstantiated or just plain incorrect. Cattle and sheep grazing on federal land has not improved habitat quality, and insufficient logging has not been responsible for large forest fires, regardless of how many times Pendley claims otherwise. The massive federal subsidies provided to ranchers, loggers and miners are treated as entitlements with no meaningful comment on their significance. The final chapter is a paean to the Wise Use movement, which conveniently omits any discussion of the well-documented violence it has encouraged against environmentalists. (Nov.)
As a lawyer and ex-Reagan administration official, Pendley (It Takes a Hero: The Grassroots Battle Against Enviromental Oppression, Free Enterprise Pr., 1994) comes out swinging in this attack on "environmental extremists" and the federal government. He is a strong proponent of property rights and includes chapters on "wise use" issues such as timber, mining, water, and ranching. But by making such preposterous claims as only those forests that are being logged are thriving, Pendley quickly dashes any semblance of scientific credibility. Written with a legal slant but geared to the layperson, the author's inflammatory arguments often suffer from faulty reasoning and tunnel vision. Recommended only where strong demand is expected. [See also William Kittredge's Who Owns the West?, reviewed on p. 139.-Ed.]-Tim Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, Wash.