In Praise of the American West: Landscapes and Memories

A. B. Guthrie contemplates the past and future of the Northern Rockies, the richness and beauty of our natural resources, and the high price of poor environmentalism. The first in a series of environmental essays by noted American authors.

| July/August 1989

"A. B. Guthrie Awarded Conservation Honor" was the headline over a story appearing in Montana's Great Falls Tribune this past October. The piece went on to say: "Author A. B. Guthrie, Jr., of Choteau was named Conservationist of the Year by the Montana Environmental Information Center during its 15th annual rendezvous Saturday at Missoula. The award is a recognition of the contributions that A. B. Guthrie has made to the environmental movement over the last several years…A collection of Guthrie's environmental essays, Big Sky, Fair Land, has recently been published by Northland Press of Flagstaff, Arizona. The Montana Audubon Council recently recognized Guthrie for the best magazine article of the year." And so on. 

A related story in the Sunday Missoulian noted that while both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates were guest speakers at the Montana Environmental Information Center banquet, "Neither candidate received a standing ovation.Both candidates received polite but unenthusiastic applause. The enthusiasm of the audience…was reserved for one of their own. Novelist A.B. Guthrie of Choteau, perhaps the most renowned of Montana writers, a Pulitzer Prize winner, stood graciously when he was named the MEIC's Conservationist of the Year.'I'm honored and grateful and I thank you all,' said Guthrie with characteristic economy of style." 

Spirited octogenarian. Outspoken environmentalist. Celebrated author of The Big Sky, The Way West and a quartet more of the most evocative and accurate novels of the West ever written. We are honored to have A. B. "Bud" Guthrie, Jr., launch our invitational series of regional contemplations. 

I have lived the greater part of my life in the American West, not of necessity but, save for my young and dependent years, by personal choice. It is my physical as well as my spiritual home.

My West is the northern Rocky Mountain West, the states of Montana, Wyoming, the western Dakotas, Idaho, Colorado and bits of Utah and Nevada.

I have lived comfortably enough elsewhere, in New York State, in California and for 20-odd rich and fondly remembered years in Kentucky. But wherever I was, my center of the world, my point of outlook on the universe, was the West. After being afield, I have returned by numerous routes on various carriers, and never have I approached home, never seen the beginnings of my West, with a lessening of old elation.

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