In the West, shortsighted human self-interest has resulted in devastating environmental losses. Fur trade beaver trapping meant streams and wetland ecosystems deteriorated. Grazing livestock depleted native bunch grasses. Migrating Idaho Salmon once reached the ocean in ten to fourteen days. Now dams stretch the journey to fifty or more.
The author's goal is to encourage people to think like a mountain--to consider long-term consequences. His essays examine cultural conflicts over resource extraction, threats to watersheds by abandoned mines, wolf recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains, the lingering effects of livestock grazing on western rangelands, and the rapidly disappearing sage grouse. They discuss the importance of forest fires, the value of beavers, the failed promises of salmon hatcheries, the reasons behind the decline of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, and how unlikely allies learned to set aside their differences in order to resolve long-standing disputes.