The current conflict over watershed management between the lowlanders and highlanders in Chomthong has unveiled various aspects of the politics of people versus nature conservation. What is important is that the conflict has exposed the shifting and inconsistent views of the Thai state towards the peripheral areas and its people. Thus, on the one hand, the official discourse on "watershed" was appropriated by the urban middle-class conservationists and lowlanders to legitimize their control of highland resources to the exclusion of the highland minorities. The two groups also used ethnic differences to justify their control over the highland resources. On the other hand, the conflict also showed that the control by the dominant power could never be absolute. Highlanders responded to the "watershed regime" by redefining watershed integrity, adapting to the state conservation pressure, and seeking and forming alliances with other groups.