Cows, Canoes, and Condos: Blending the Old West with the New

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In the past, the economy of the western United States depended on converting natural resources into lumber, metals, and hydroelectricity. More recently, the relationship to natural resources has moved from extraction toward protection. But this shift has led to acrimony and gridlock.

Surprisingly, the experience of the past can come to the rescue. In “Cows, Canoes, and Condos: Blending the Old West with the New,” Terry L. Anderson and Laura E. Huggins point out that the Old West was not as wild as many people think. Drawing in part on lessons captured in The Not So Wild, Wild West by Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. Hill, they point out that it was a place where entrepreneurs discovered local, cooperative solutions based on institutions such as property rights. Anderson and Huggins recommend ways that these institutions can help people maximize nature’s wealth today.

This essay is part of the PERC Policy Series and, specifically, one in a series of essays supported by the Dufresne Foundation and the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. These “wealth of nature” essays explore the changing demands on resources in today’s western United States. PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center, is a nonprofit institute based in Bozeman, Montana, dedicated to improving environmental quality through markets.

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