There are two types of environmental problems facing the Bitterroot valley. These problems are either modern or they are more historical. The historical causes are ones that any human population would cause in any given ecosystem. These do not include complications of mining practices, manmade dams, logging (or lack thereof), water rights, and human industrialization. For example. Indigenous tribes of the bitterroot valley (the Kootenai, Salish, and Pond Oreille) would systematically burn the underbrush in forests to prevent massive forest fires. This practice allowed for native species to thrive. The struggle that the state and valley face in order to fight fires isn’t historical but a product of the desires of its inhabitants. As Diamond mentions the population is divided between low income people whose priority is survival in a capitalistic society and higher income tourists/seasonal inhabitant whose priorities in the valley are to maintain beauty regardless of consequence. On the other hand, the problem of invasive plants and animals are a historic problem. We consider non-native species to be harmful when really, they just bring about change which seems harmful but would occur naturally by means of trade and transportation by other animals.
The Bitterroot valley is not an ideal representation of the worlds environmental issues. It’s set of problems are largely informed by the its population and its relatively pristine status doesn’t equate to the large-scale crisis effecting much larger areas of the world such as acidic rain. The important aspect of tourism-based industry does not relate to a majority of other parts of the world. Though it may present as a good case study for other areas as to what could happen specifically after un-controlled mining is allowed.