by Peter R. Decker
Saving the West
John Marlow, a fourth generation Colorado rancher, has lost his family’s ranch to its creditors; while also losing his wife and son to a less stressful life in town. When the National Open Land Conservancy (NOLC) purchases the 60,000-acre ranch from the bank to save it from development, Charles Devlin, New York’s leading investment banker and NOLC’s chairman, ends up with the ranch, while gaining a generous tax credit and a gorgeous summer retreat for his family. He hires Marlow as manager, but John’s way of running the ranch quickly conflicts with the conservation ethic of Charles and his wife Amanda, and the profit expectations of Charles’ accountant, Fred Rigby. The Devlins expect the ranch to become an environmental showcase in the West, a region, they believe, is slowly destroying itself from mining, timber cutting, and over grazing. But John not only rebels, he retaliates as well. What ensues from there is mayhem involving eastern bankers, industrialists, and philanthropists being pitted against long-time local residents, Indians, and a narrow-gauge train in Durango, Colorado. The clash of John’s rural values with those of Charles’ urban culture serves as the back drop for Peter Decker’s gentle satire.