The Chicago Tribune ran a story today on the small but thriving maral deer horn industry in Altai.
While I’m not a huge fan of the stuff myself (it’s mostly aimed at men), I recognize that it’s a reasonable industry for people in the region. It’s only major downside (that I can think of) is that the large tracts of fenced land required for pasturing the deer can fragment habitat for wild populations. I don’t think the industry has grown to such an extent that this is a major problem yet, but it’s something to watch out for.
Tourism of all sorts (archaeological, nature, agricultural, sporting, etc) has got to be the basic building block of the region, and for that to happen, the local government has to protect its resources. And the federal government should be helping not hindering the situation, by building pipelines that not only don’t benefit the region but actually hurt it in many ways.