Wallace Stegner, a fine author, has written a mournful article (Opinion, Dec. 29), "Water in the West: Growing Beyond Nature's Limits," on the despoliation of the West. He would have the arid areas remain arid for spiritual and artistic purposes. His underlying premise is that what nature wrought man should not change. This is certainly an attractive thesis until we consider the remainder of the equation--the abode and sustenance of man.
How development proceeds today depends on a myriad of decisions by public agencies, businesses, and individuals. While we can all agree the result has not been a total success, what system, in a democracy, would replace the collective judgment of various interests? Who is to decide where an individual resides?
There is no question, looking from hindsight, that much development is mistaken. No better example comes to mind than the movers and shakers of the San Francisco area utilizing "a second Yosemite," the Hetch-Hetchy Valley, to store water, thereby destroying an irreplaceable natural treasure.
On the other hand, much development is reasonble, that is, it represents a balance between preservation and change; between maintaining the natural environment and satisfying human needs.