The quality of life that characterizes much of rural America serves as a principal incentive for the new breed of entrepreneur you write about ("The care and feeding of lone eagles," Information Processing, Nov. 15).
Our studies and work in rural communities in the Pacific Northwest and Greater Yellowstone regions found local leaders eager to embrace economic development strategies that veered sharply from past dependence on resource extraction such as mining, logging, and grazing. While still important to local economies, such industries pale in comparison with the potential for growth that footloose industries offer.
Federal agencies responsible for public-land management in the West don't seem to get the picture yet, however. They continue to promote commodity extraction as a primary economic activity even in the face of mounting evidence that it harms instead of helps rural economies. And taxpayers get left holding the bag on those activities to the tune of more than $1 billion annually in federal subsidies.
Those who argue we need more development of public lands miss the point: The "lone eagles" your article describes can fly anyplace they want, anytime, to find the most desirable work and home environment.
Jeffrey T. Olson, Director
Bolle Center for Ecosystem