Reporter Kirk Johnson's object example is William P. Foley II, above, who bought a mountain because he thought it was being logged too heavily. He "proudly calls himself a conservationist who wants Montana to stay as wild as possible," Johnson writes. "That does not mean no development and no profit. Mr. Foley, the chairman of a major title insurance company, Fidelity National Financial, based in Florida, also owns a chain of Montana restaurants, a ski resort and a huge cattle ranch on which he is building homes." Foley told Johnson, “A lot of it is more for fun than for making money.”
Johnson's larger view of economic change: "With the timber industry in steep decline, recreation is pushing aside logging as the biggest undertaking in the national forests and grasslands, making nearby private tracts more desirable — and valuable, in a sort of ratchet effect — to people who enjoy outdoor activities and ample elbow room and who have the means to take title to what they want. ... The United States Forest Service projects that over the next 25 years, an area the size of Maine — all of it bordering the national forests and grasslands — will face development pressure and increased housing density."
Private development has left the timber industry short of trees of private land, increasing pressure for logging in national forests. "In ways that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, environmentalists and representatives of the timber industry are reaching across the table, drafting plans that would get loggers back into the national forests in exchange for agreements that would set aside certain areas for protection," Johnson writes. "Both groups are feeling under siege: timber executives because of the decline in logging, and environmentalists because of the explosion of growth on the margins of the public lands." (Read more)