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End of the Wild West legacy

As one wag observed, we are a nation that drives on parkways and parks in driveways. And the nice thing about the Legacy Parkway deal is now nobody will be forced to "park" on a parkway. The new artery will open the flow of traffic north and mend the tattered nerves of commuters coming south.

And as with most brokered deals, some people are tickled while others are ticked.

The truckers, billboard companies and free spirits are not at all happy. And we understand the frustration. But we also see reality. This is no longer Wild Bill's West.

For years, the West was viewed by the world — and by westerners themselves — as moviemakers wanted it to be seen, as a giant canvas where everyone could paint their dreams. If you were a railroader, you could move mountains. Miners perforated the hills. Homesteaders rolled in, put up a log cabin and put down roots. Zoning didn't exist and "smart growth" meant eating all your peas and carrots.

That is how the West was won.

Now, it's up to the descendents of those westerners to make sure it isn't lost. The days of having a grand vision and being able to finesse the details on the fly are gone. Legacy taught that. Before proceeding, businesses, governments and individuals need to have their ducks lined up. Some say the state was blindsided by "tree huggers" who want to stunt all growth. But the fact the lawsuit was allowed to go forward at all shows that the courts and the law have found merit in making sure that protections are in place and that projects aren't allowed to steamroll over delicate lands and other concerns.

In the minds of many, the state has been held hostage. In the minds of others, it has been held accountable.

The truth likely lies somewhere between.

But the new Legacy Parkway does signal a new paradigm. The era of "Men to Match my Mountains" is coming to an end. The era of "Men to Watch my Mountains" has now begun.

That fact angers some who still hold dear the silver screen images of cattle barons, wild horses and sinewy sheriffs. More thoughtful souls can also feel a twinge of melancholy and nostalgia, but they are savvy enough to realize not only have the rules changed, the game has changed. Growth and grand visions of development are still possible. But like the great herds of palominos, they simply can no longer be allowed to gallop around willy-nilly, completely unbridled.