JOHN HEISER: Nothing 'Legendary' about N.D.'s new landscape
GRASSY BUTTE, N.D. -- Once upon a time -- not long ago, actually -- western North Dakota was indeed "Legendary" in many respects which the rest of America found attractive, respects that included the region's vast and uncrowded landscape and its ...
GRASSY BUTTE, N.D. -- Once upon a time -- not long ago, actually -- western North Dakota was indeed "Legendary" in many respects which the rest of America found attractive, respects that included the region's vast and uncrowded landscape and its bounty of peaceful solitude far from the madding crowds.
"Legendary" also fit the western culture, which was a direct derivative of the land and sky themselves. Those of us who lived and worked here in those halcyon times liked what we had.
And most of us, I suspect, did not take our good fortune for granted. We knew that this was good place to spend a lifetime, one without the noise and traffic and general chaos of busy cities.
We did not feel a need to define it as "Legendary." We simply knew it was and lived accordingly, which of course furthered the image.
Living in a naturally "Legendary" landscape made us who we are, and we didn't pay much attention to whether the state Tourism Department was, well, paying much attention to us.
Life on the range of western Dakota was maybe not quite perfect with its weather vagaries and maybe too many people -- but then Big Oil discovered our place and brought general chaos on a mega-scale.
The vast majority of western North Dakotans really do not appreciate -- let alone like! -- the greedy lunacy of another Oil Boom. See, we've been there before, and we know that not a whole lot of good came from those previous booms. In fact, the booms typically leave quite a mess in their wake, one that we longtime residents end up cleaning up and paying for one way or another.
Unfortunately, western North Dakota is not so "Legendary" any more, unless one counts scary traffic on roads as well as power lines and pipelines running pell-mell across a landscape better suited to cows and horses and pronghorn antelope.
We don't want to be "Legendary" for oil and saltwater spills, nor for night skies glowing from gas flares rather than northern lights.
And are there fireball oil trains in our future as well?
With all due respect to the Tourism Department, having a Hollywood actor and Los Angeles resident may not do much to restore our "Legendary" image, even as he speaks for a place he certainly does not know now and perhaps never did.
Tourism may also want to reconsider its "Legendary" campaign when it comes to western Dakota. Heaven forbid that they engage in deceptive advertising.
Heiser is a fourth-generation Dakota rancher.