If you are familiar with the concept of Holistic Management developed by Allan Savory you know that one of the tools that can be applied to help us reach our Holistic Goal is Money and Labor (because they are linked – each can be exchanged for labor- they are grouped together in the HRM Model). 

Savory identified the three most basic sources of wealth our dollar represents. They are: mineral dollars, paper dollars and solar dollars. Whatever forms of wealth you control, success in achieving your goal depends on how creatively you use it. 

This is especially crucial for ranchers and farmers who depend on the solar wealth generated from their own land. An important characteristic is that solar dollars are the only form of wealth that can actually feed people. This requires the conversion of solar energy through plants that depend on water and biologically active soils. Only solar dollars will sustain humanity in the long run.

How about outdoor recreation and tourism? What type of dollars do these activities generate? They are the products either of human creativity and labor alone (paper dollars), or human creativity combined with labor and raw resources (mineral dollars). 

Various services fall into the paper dollar category. The service professionals do not actually make anything or produce the kind of elemental wealth that supports life, though they do sustain other service related jobs, and make life genuinely more comfortable.

I read an interesting article in the Spring, 2022, issue of Range Magazine entitled “The New West’s Big Lie.” It was written by Jim Stiles, who was the founding publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr, a periodical focused on environmental issues around Moab, Utah. 

The article addressed the current state of Moab after it exploded with “industrial tourism” which caters to the mountain bikers, rock climbers, ATV boulder crawlers and National Park visitors who are anxious to see the red sandstone in the canyonlands of Utah. 

Stiles postulates that all is not well in Moab as it deals with an amenity economy marked by low wages, exorbitant housing prices, rising crime rates and even more exponential growth ahead. He suggests that progressive environmentalists support turning all of the rural West into more Moabs. They believe it is the best way to “save” the West. He suggests you just ask the outdoor industry.

While the mainstream media and environmental propaganda machines grind out reports on the economic benefits of an industrial tourism economy, they never specifically say who benefits. He offers that is the deception – just who exactly prospers in the new West?

Stiles states the truth is that these recently urbanized rural economies were rarely intended to benefit the citizens whose families founded small western towns more than a century ago. Generations gave their sweat and blood to make a life in these last remote corners of the West, and now, in the eyes of many, they serve no further useful purposes. For the New West, it is not a matter of helping these rural communities. It is about replacing them.

Stiles boldly states that most urban proponents ooze nothing but loathing for the rural population. They often attempt to collectively label the Old West as a mob of ignorant, racist rubes. But they ignore the fact that their own solutions create issues that go beyond race. They turn a blind eye to “institutional elitism,” the deliberate planned creation of a culture and an economy that excludes everyone, of any race, who lacks the financial assets to be a part of the newly transformed community.

Are you listening Patagonia? Caravans of ATVs and mountain bikes, and their aficionados, may bring in tax revenues from their visits, but these are paper dollars. They are not the solar dollars that actually feed people and sustain humanity in the long run. It is our farmers and ranchers who produce solar dollars generated from their own land. I recall a truism germane to this topic: “You can’t eat the scenery.”