Which is worse, cows or condos? Can the public lands be saved if the private lands are paved? What does the future hold for the West's vaunted open lands, its ever more precious water, and its fire-prone forests? Is ranching a doomed myth – as its critics charge – or the key to real conservation? The Western range is America's most legendary landscape. It is also among its most threatened and most fiercely contested. More than 400 million acres of the West are used to raise livestock: half of the land privately owned and half of it public. In recent decades, the private lands have been rapidly converting to residential development, both around booming cities and in remote, scenic, exurban areas. The public half of the range has become mired in political battles and lawsuits between environmentalists, ranchers, and public agencies. In Working Wilderness Nathan Sayre examines an unusual alliance that has worked for ten years to answer these questions and preserve the wide open range: The Malpai Borderlands Group.