The Three American Wests


Joe Weber 




Weber, J. 2019. The three American wests. Professional Geographer 17(2): 239-252.

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In the twenty-first century, there are three American Wests, which cut across cultural, political, physical, and economic boundaries. Parts of the West are booming, building homes, and adding population; others are legally off limits to such development; and much of the West has been bypassed by such development and growth. These are called here the Booming West, Protected West, and Bypassed West. Maps of climate, political boundaries, ethnic and racial identities, or presidential voting patterns do not match these three Wests. Each West has a different relationship to the others and might see them as threats or opportunities, and each West can be expected to grow in different areas at the expense of other Wests. The boundaries between the three Wests could be important locations; sharp transitions can exist between Wests, perhaps nowhere more so than where a fast growing metro area abuts a national park or forest boundary. Finally, the effects of climate change cut across the three Wests and have different implications for their future. Continued population growth will further emphasize the boundaries between each of the three Wests and raise the stakes for their control