he economy of the West has changed. For over a century natural resource industries -- logging, mining, and ranching - have been economic keystones. Now, global forces are shaping a new economy, and the market favors service and information-based industries. At the same time, urban and affluent newcomers escape cities to build better lives in the West, bringing an utterly different value system for the land. To them, commodity extraction is not nearly as important as the amenity value of land -- scenery, recreation, open space, fish and wildlife, wilderness. As a result, rapid and often unsettling changes threaten many rural communities.

  Despite dramatic demographic and economic shifts, many rural Westerners still believe that the natural resource economy dominates all other considerations. They see other economic and social goods as dependent on the continuing, largely unrestrained, use of the natural environment. We believe this misconception fosters much mischief. Ironically, this narrow view constrains the economic, social, and cultural potential of local communities. However, in many locations the traditional interests hold disproportionate power.