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FORUM: PUBLIC LANDS IN UTAH AND THE AMERICAN WEST 96

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Understanding Cliven Bundy Using Narrative, Geographic, and Visual Empathy in Public Lands History By Leisl Carr Childers

108 Public Lands Rebellion By James R. Skillen

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Public Lands and American Indians Traditional Use and Off-Reservation Treaty Rights By Yvette Towersap Tuell

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Utah Lake Rock Imagery An Intersection of Public Lands, Recreational Shooting, and Cultural Resources By Elizabeth Hora and Christopher Merritt

129 From Skepticism to Support National Heritage Areas in the West By Eleanor Mahoney

139 The Problem of Enclosing Western Public Lands Working Locally to Preserve our American Commons By Maria E. Montoya

144 Public Grazing Lands and the Progressive Conservation Movement Reassessing the Gospel of Efficiency By Matthew A. Pearce

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150 After a Century National Forest Management in the Intermountain Region at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century By Thomas G. Alexander

158 The Return of Uncertainty Public Lands in an Increasingly Unpredictable World By Laura Alice Watt

165 Bucking the White Elephant Utah’s Fight for Federal Management of the Public Domain, 1923–1934 By Benjamin Kiser

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DEPARTMENTS 181 Notices 182 Contributors 184 Utah In Focus

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The recent designation and subsequent downsizing of the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah has brought heightened awareness to public lands politics. At the time of this writing, ongoing political and legal cross swords over the status of the monument and its boundaries expose fissures in our land politics as deep as—and in some ways aligned with—the political divisions confronting our country. Divisions over what public lands are, what they should be, and how they are to be managed have perplexed our culture for generations. The contested question boils down to the meaning of public in public lands: to whom do these lands belong and for what purpose, how are they to be managed, what criteria decides who benefits from them, and who is excluded. Bears Ears is part of the approximately 640 million acres federally managed in the United States, larger in land mass than Alaska and Texas combined. That these lands are owned by all Americans seems simple enough, but that reality obscures thorny legal, political, managerial, cultural, geographical, and ecological issues part and parcel to any serious discussion of the vast real estate owned in common.

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We intend this special issue to contribute to the serious discussion swirling in the political and policy realm—even as we hope it also appeals to the public. Although public lands history appears at first glance a tedious subject, the topic could not be more pressing to anyone who cares about Utah and the West. Most readers of this journal will know of public lands from personal experience: we live close to them, extract resources from them, recreate on them. Drive any distance in the western states and you will notice that they dominate the skyline. These tangible associations run deeper still for many in our communities. Far from being uninhabited, these lands sustained generation after generation of Indigenous peoples who lived and died on them; Native Americans today rely on them still for economic, cultural, and religious purposes. The sweep of the general term public lands belies these intimate connections. Collectively they may take an amorphous form in our minds, but specific landscapes, landforms, features, and place names hold particular meanings to the people who know and love them.

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state and local designations. Within large-scale categories, land-managing agencies create various administrative designations based on applicable laws and statutes that dictate how lands are to be used and for what purposes. Rather than organizations locked in time, these agencies are driven by the mandates directing them, the personalities running them, and the forces acting upon them. Over time their priorities change, as do their organizational coherence and public acceptance. Prior to 1891, when Congress set aside reserves to prevent proliferate stripping of the nation’s forests, the federal policy was almost exclusively to give away or sell off public lands. Its raisons d’être was to settle the West, driven by the Jeffersonian ideology to shape American settlers into farmers, the backbone of the nation’s citizenry. As historians have pointed out, that policy did damage to Indigenous and

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A challenge of public lands history is to represent the range of individual stories in the context of the whole. The stunning diversity of the places and landscapes gives public lands no easy characterization, and any attempt to do so borders on the bland. These lands make up diverse ecosystems, biomes, and habitats, from the frigid tundra of northern Alaska to the southwestern Sonoran borderlands. Utah, with its alpine mountainous terrain, riparian canyons, and arid deserts, represents a kind of microcosm of the diversity found in the western states. These ecological classifications may be mapped, in a general sense, onto designated lands. At the federal level, legislative designations of large, landscape-scale places include national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, national conservation lands, national monuments, national heritage areas, national recreation areas, wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness. Beyond the federal are

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Snake Valley, White Pine County, Nevada. Snake Valley, stretching along the Utah-Nevada border, overlaps or borders several federal land designations, including BLM, national forest, national park, and national heritage area. Photo by Leisl Carr Childers.

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Since midcentury, a flurry of new laws, statutes, and cultural priorities have expanded the voices clamoring for a place at the table. Traditional uses of these lands continue—timber production, ranching, and mining among them—but in current decades recreation-based activities seem to be eclipsing all others in terms of economic and cultural import. Increasingly, policy makers and land managers must consider mandates and priorities that acknowledge the aboriginal presence on public lands, the care of ancient and Indigenous remains and artifacts, and the protection of ecosystems independently of how they may be used to serve humans. That is, land managers no longer think merely about maximizing economic yield; they seek to embrace ecosystem management, work to

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The forum at the heart of this issue of Utah Historical Quarterly digs into this most recent period. We begin with a thoughtful piece on the role of narrative and empathy in the histories we tell of public lands. Leisl Carr Childers picks a polarizing figure—Cliven Bundy—and asks how using the concept of empathy as a tool can change the narratives we tell about, yes, a heroic figure in some camps but, perhaps more commonly, a villain. Her answers point not only to new ways of telling public lands history but of understanding individuals with whom we may disagree. We start here because the preconceived ideas we have about public lands, or in this case a polarizing figure, can become disorienting but also illuminating when considered through a different lens. We pair Carr Childers’s essay with one by James R. Skillen, who, by showing the persistent iterations of anti-government sentiment among groups over the last four decades, places the Bundy experience in perspective. The contribution here is to show how western animosity over public lands has variously taken on forms of regional and national identity.

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From the late nineteenth century, the federal government gradually moved from a policy of disposal to one of retention as permanent caretakers of vast tracts of land. The program of land management would be undertaken by scientists, engineers, and planners committed to efficiency and control in the utilization of natural resources. Gifford Pinchot, head of the U.S. Forest Service, and other Progressive-era conservationists advanced the notion of “the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run,” and—in theory, at least—brought forest management in line with this reasoning. On federal grasslands, range lands, and forested areas on what was then known as the unappropriated federal domain, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 provided for federal regulation of grazing lands in a way similar to the Forest Service’s regulation of the nation’s public forests. Although these measures were meant to curtail abuses of public land use, they also ensured continued economic gain of lumber companies and ranchers benefiting from the nation’s natural resources.

restore damaged landscapes, and value plant and wildlife for their own sakes. Beyond the priorities, the processes have also become more democratic—and messy. Federal and state land agencies must now manage for these diverse interests, ofttimes navigating management within a very public framework.

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other non-white peoples; the history of public lands disposal is in lock step with dispossession of Native people who long had occupied the land. It also often ran headlong against the geographic realities of a largely arid region with limited prospects of agricultural productivity— although into the second half of the twentieth century federal laws and promotors continued to push homesteading, or at least the hope of homesteading, on public lands.

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Yvette Towersap Tuell’s essay on her peoples’ “inherent and treaty rights” to off-reservation lands gives measured consideration to the question of how Indigenous rights differ from the “rights” of other groups on public lands. A member of the sovereign Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Tuell blends tribal traditions and history to show the spiritual and survival connections well beyond what passes for multiple-use recreation by today’s campers and rock climbers. These are the living traditions; also important is the recognition and protection of ancient ones. The next essay introduces readers to remarkable Great Basin and Great Salt Lake Fremont–style rock art on BLM and state-owned lands at Lake Mountain near Utah Lake. The archaeologists Elizabeth Hora and Chris Merritt show what happens when concerned citizens, coordinating with public officials, land

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managers, and other individuals, take initiative to protect irreplaceable, centuries-old rock art from recreational shooters’ aim. The case study at Lake Mountain implies that nimble management structures are best able to respond to the pressure-cooker issues that are bound to arise on public lands.

from their predecessors, managers engaged in landscape restoration and ecological management on the basis of forest health separate from human needs. They increasingly addressed recreation in their forest plans and focused on planning and public hearings to engage with a diverse constituency.

A core challenge of public lands management is the imbalance between national and local interests—a theme tacitly addressed in our next two essays. Eleanor Mahoney details a relatively new phenomenon in rural corners of the West: the designation of national heritage areas (NHAs). As with some national parks or monuments, local residents and officials sometimes resist NHAs for fear of land-use restrictions and the impact on private property, but unlike most other federal designations, these are locally driven. Mahoney describes the process of getting locals to buy in; for the proposed Mormon Pioneer Heritage NHA, the keys were outreach, partnerships, and the promise of community revitalization. The next essay, centered on a legal dispute over public lands access in New Mexico, also demonstrates the virtues of local knowledge and decision-making. Maria E. Montoya analyzes a contemporary example of state and local governments providing a structure for locals to demonstrate their historical connection to public lands. As some other essays in this issue also demonstrate, these lands are often at the center of cultural and economic life for the local peoples and communities reliant upon them.

We conclude the forum with an insightful meditation on the divergence between perception and reality. Framing her piece by chronicling recent fires in her home state of California, Laura Alice Watt argues that the predictability that people come to expect of nature generally and public lands in particular is a chimera. Nature’s unpredictability is about as predictable as anything, and the laws and regulatory structure built around public lands management do not adequately consider this. Watt’s essay highlights how prevailing conventions, based on dated assumptions about how nature works, are not adequate to address the changes happening on public lands throughout the western states.

The next essays offer new insights into shifting priorities and challenges of range and forest management spanning the twentieth century. Matthew Pearce’s discussion of Frederick Coville, chief botanist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers a look at the intersection between policy, management, and science at the turn of the twentieth century. Coville’s field research and prescriptions for public domain range management during this era epitomized the Progressive era conservation notion of serving the interests of all and foreshadowed later federal regulations. We see in Thomas G. Alexander’s essay—an analysis of Forest Service management in the Intermountain region—how management priorities changed in the second half of the century. Quite different

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Utah Historical Quarterly readers will notice that the forum essays are, for the most part, shorter than our standard research articles. We make no attempt at comprehensiveness. The perspectives represent those of the authors, who were encouraged to consider new approaches or insights based on a synthesis of their own or others’ research. The result is a collection of themes unexamined in the existing literature. In combination they present a regional portrait of the divergent issues facing public lands in recent decades. We close the issue with an important article that can help us think differently about the persistent tussle over federal–state ownership of public lands. Nearly a century ago prominent Utahns called for federal management of the unappropriated domain (later under BLM management). Concerned about the relationship between overgrazing and severe flood events in the Wasatch Range, Governor George Dern, William Peterson, John M. Macfarlane, and others rejected the Hoover administration’s offer to grant the unappropriated public domain to western states and instead lobbied for increased federal oversight. This position may be surprising given that Dern often argued for

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Adam M. Sowards, “Sometimes, It Takes a Table,” Environmental History 23 (January 2018): 143–51, https://doi .org/10.1093/envhis/emx122.

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The historian Adam Sowards recently justified historical attention to public lands. “Any successful approach to public lands management requires that we consider people and place over time, a perspective historically lacking,” he contends. “Instead, these lands have been treated, by the public, by managers, by Congress, as almost endlessly malleable, regardless of the nature or culture that occupied specific locales.”1 This specificity is one justification for the issue you hold in your hands. The individual histories of these places can teach us something about our own time. Since public lands have increasingly become a kind of incubator where national competing values play out in a very public process, historians can inform all who take part.

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Sometimes it seems few outside the American West, and even few within it, think much about public lands. These lands often do not rise to the level of our collective and individual consciousness. The Bears Ears debate has changed this, at least for a time. Perhaps the sheer scale of the lands contribute to this inattention. Consequently, what happens—or happened—there is out of sight, out of mind. We hope this issue not only introduces readers to something new, even surprising, but that it gives you more reason to care. The discourse on public lands is usually policy-dominated, driven by politicians, managers, and user groups. But historians also have something to contribute to the conversation, and many of the essays here distinctly link past and present. On a topic that operates in the public discourse as us–them, we need deep historical perspective, if for no other reason than to exhibit the empathy and understanding that we desire for ourselves.

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“state’s rights,” but as Benjamin Kiser adroitly shows in his article, Dern and other prominent Utahns distinguished between deriving benefits from public lands and owning title to them. This insight provides needed perspective into current wrangling over federal–state land ownership, tying neatly to how we began this issue showing the anti-government brand of public lands politics.

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Understanding Cliven Bundy: Using Narrative, Geographic, and Visual Empathy in Public Lands History

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In April of 2014, Cliven Bundy’s story broke on the national news. For those unfamiliar with the Nevada rancher’s name, he is the patriarch of the Bundy family that featured prominently in the armed resistance against federal officials at Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014, and in the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. Federal law enforcement brought charges after these incidents against Bundy and several other members of his family, and they were tried in federal court where an Oregon jury acquitted them and a Nevada federal judge ruled a mistrial. Bundy and his family embody, though to a much greater degree than the norm, ongoing tensions between traditional users of public lands, such as ranchers, and federal land managers tasked with their care. Several renowned journalists have written books and produced television shows and podcasts about the actions of Bundy and his family, including Frontline’s “American Patriot”; Leah Sotille’s Bundyville: Season 1; James Pogue’s Chosen Country: A Rebellion in the West; John Temple’s Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America’s Patriot Militia Movement; Anthony McCann’s Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff; and Christopher Ketchum’s This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West. Most of these are serious attempts to understand Bundy and his family’s perspective and offer some explanation of his actions. But all of these authors struggled to understand the Bundy family’s political and religious legal perspectives on public lands and their governance. They also offer, understandably, unsympathetic judgment of his actions and those of his family. In the spring of 2014, before the release of any of these studies, I wrote a blog post that tried to make sense of Cliven Bundy and his family. Titled “Understanding Cliven Bundy,” the piece was an attempt to move past

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This was my attempt at seeing the issues that had brought ranchers and militia to Bunkerville from Bundy’s perspective and trying to understand the ranchers’ actions. Among mainstream journalists and political commentators, there was much debate as to whether or not Bundy deserved any understanding at all. In fact, it became more and more difficult to comprehend his perspective as the events at Bunkerville led to the near-catastrophic crisis in Harney County. During the Oregon and Nevada trials of Bundy and his followers in 2017 and 2018, it became nearly impossible for me to even want to try. Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon grounded their actions in highly conservative articulations of faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ scripture and through their similarly conservative and faith-based interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. As the cases wore on, the family’s complaints about the federal government seemed to be well-founded when the defense uncovered an actual government conspiracy against the Bundy family. On the day the case in Nevada ended, Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan stood before media cameras and thanked God for their freedom and left the courthouse in Las Vegas believing their actions against the U.S. government were vindicated.2

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Narrative, Geographic, and Visual Empathy

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Bundy cannot pay the grazing fees or the penalties that have accumulated in the past two decades. Neither can he continue to ranch in Bunkerville. All that is left to Bundy is some semblance of his dignity, which is quickly being eroded on national television. In his late 60s now, the man is probably exhausted. He should not be made into the mascot or villain in anyone’s cause and we should not be so quick to condemn him. Rather, Cliven Bundy deserves a little bit of empathy since it is we who have asked him to continually adapt.1

What exactly then is the point of trying to be empathetic? Is there even any value to expending time and energy trying to understand someone who has a perspective that is so different, so offensive? I argue that there is, especially in situations that call into question the way public lands are managed. My attempt to understand Cliven Bundy has become my own intensive case study in what it means to try to develop historical empathy. It was then and continues to be an exercise in working out how historical empathy is actually created. It has forced me to become more intentional in how I work with both the past and the present, and how I utilize narrative resources, geographic spaces, and visual materials to develop an understanding of very different perspectives.

Empathy is a necessary component to understanding the past and is most often evoked in history, the study of the past, through some engagement with source analysis. The sources largely relied upon by historians, history educators, and history students alike consist of text, visual images, or a combination of the two, with perhaps some occasional auditory sources. Working with these materials typically produces information on people, places, times, and events, but rarely does routine source analysis evoke an understanding of the past that allows these researchers to inhabit the world view, the framework of thought, the way of seeing things from the historical actors’ perspectives. Even more rarely does it evoke an affective, or emotional, response.

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making Bundy into a symbol and an object used for political gain. I traced Bundy’s family history, his water rights and grazing history, and tried to offer some understanding of the situation from within his perspective. I concluded the article writing:

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The past is distant from the present in profound ways, and both intellectual and emotional responses to historical events are often hard to come by, especially when the past feels so unreachable except through these remnant, incomplete, and often frustrating sources. Nevertheless, it is important to do as Sam Wineburg, a cognitive psychologist who has made a career out of studying historical thinking, suggests and avoid the faults of presentism, “the act of viewing the past through the lens of the present.” To Wineburg, “Judging past actors by present standards, wrests them from their own

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context and subjects them to ways of thinking that we, not they, have developed.”3 Wineburg is suggesting that we endeavor to understand the ways in which the historical actors we study make decisions and frame their actions. Rather than agree or disagree with their choices (though we might), Wineburg pushes us to try on the mindsets of these actors and see the world from their point of view.

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In Wineburg’s opinion, the best way to create comprehension of and connection to the past is through the development of historical empathy, the act of creating an understanding of past situations as experienced by those living at that time, as opposed to considering them from the perspective of the present. Wrapping our researcher’s mind around historical actors’ perspectives, their frameworks of thought requires more than just knowing the facts. Historical empathy, produced by engaged and careful analysis and contextualization of source materials, according to Wineburg, fosters the ability to “think in time.”4 But thinking in time is not enough. In order to truly create historical empathy, those who study the past must also feel in time. A fundamental component of historical empathy is the term empathy itself. Defined by literary scholar Suzanne Keen, who has done extraordinary work integrating the psychology of empathy with the construction of narrative or story, empathy is “a vicarious, spontaneous sharing of affect” that “can be provoked by witnessing another’s emotional state, by hearing about another’s condition, or even by reading.” Empathy is not sympathy, sometimes called empathetic concern, but rather is a reasonable step that moves us from feeling or understanding what we believe others feel to feeling for or with them.5 For Keen, empathy is created through narrative, within the act of storytelling. Her theory of narrative empathy posits that authors can create shared feeling and perspective for readers through literary techniques, commonly used by creative writers of nonfiction and novelists, such as the creation and articulation of characters with whom audiences can identify and the use of narrative situations—whether familiar, representative, or that emphasize

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common hopes or vulnerabilities—that can be shared across audiences. Similarly, readers are likely to connect to characters with whom they can identify and to situations with which they have some understanding. There is no guarantee that readers will understand and connect to a story at this deeper emotional level, but some connection does occur.6 Within narrative empathy, authors create understanding in how they choose to tell stories and readers come to a place of understanding by engaging with that storytelling. For novelists, creative writers, and historians alike, it matters how the story is told. For the readers of stories, historians included, it also matters how the story is read. But historians as a group must consider both ways in which stories are told and how they are read, particularly through the process of source analysis. Historical sources are really just story fragments. Besides the information they contain, they also provide perspective on a matter of interest—an event, an idea, another person— from a particular point of view. In addition to merely identifying the historical actor(s) involved, situating that point of view and explicating the narrative situation is the work of contextualization. Building the historical context around a source is fundamental to the source analysis process. The cornerstone of a source’s narrative situation is its actual physical situation—both the location of the source (where the physical item resides and where its digital surrogate is preserved) and the location of the author and audience. Where historical actors live, how they live in that location, and how they move through that place are critical questions to explore. As much as empathy can be developed through narrative, it can also be fostered through geography. In her analysis of Victorian author Thomas Hardy’s novels, literary scholar Eve Sorum argues that the writer moved beyond the use of characters’ interior points of view and offered readers a common, connective geographic perspective that had been largely associated with the objective, scientific study of nature.7 Observers of nature saw the places of their observation from different perspectives but came to common scientific understandings of those places despite their different points of view.

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Images provide audiences with common ground to view and reflect because they trim out everything except what the author wishes us to see, they eradicate the visual noise.

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What would it look like if we built and utilized a visual empathy technique to create historical empathy in situations where the source material is challenging and the historical actors are relatively unsympathetic? What techniques can we develop to intentionally and deliberately make space in our historical practice to empathize with people from the past with whom we have nothing in common? How might we do this with regard to difficult situations in the present? In an age of wider and deeper division between the American body politic, reified by a national news media driven to sensationalize rather than contextualize events, this kind of empathetic practice fills the void by creating understanding out of discord. Instead of treating Cliven Bundy as an irrational actor, this practice takes his position seriously and attempts to understand his point of view. That is not the same as creating agreement or rationalizing his actions.

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Building narrative and geographic forms of empathy within our analysis of historical sources enhances the creation of historical empathy. However, bringing those perspectives into focus and aligning what are often disparate points of view requires attention to a final component. The cultural framing of visual images, from paintings to prints, snapshots to staged photographs—what we often call visual culture—speaks volumes about both the author of the images and the audience to whom they are directed. In the absence of text, what is portrayed in the visual field is determined by and reflects an array of social values that constitute particular cultures.9 That context can be interrogated in visual materials as much as it can in the case of textual sources. Noting what is in the field of view and what is not, elements that are centered in the image versus those on the periphery, the angle of the image itself, all of these are choices made by the image author. These choices evoke specific responses in audiences—an Ansel Adams photograph of a magnificent landscape in a national park, famously devoid of people, can generate joy in those who want to view nature as wild and without evidence of human presence.

Federal agencies use images of public lands that emphasize the beauty of these landscapes to attract interest and visitation. These images portray the scenery at its best and as a result, they are adept at creating engagement. They may also be able to create understanding between disparate groups. These landscapes are available to a variety of individuals, from visitors to nearby residents, who engage in a variety of different activities on public lands and who can literally see the landscape from the same perspective as the authors of the official photographs. Of these three forms of empathy building—narrative, geographic, and visual—visual empathy is best suited to begin connecting us through visual representation to perspectives and feelings not our own, particularly on public lands.

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In Sorum’s estimation, Hardy used what she terms “geo-empathy: the possibility of empathy across difference,” understanding that is grounded, often literally, in the same physical space. She writes, “If empathy can be engaged by occupying the same spatial perspective, then differences in period, class, gender, or other social and personal divisors might be bridged.” Rather than blurring or transcending differences, because it is impossible to actually stand in another person’s shoes, let alone replicate the actual space and time once occupied by a historical actor, this geographically grounded form of empathy creates “a route to engagement with others.”8 If we can physically occupy the same landscapes, literally stand on the same ground as the historical actors we study, we can use the geography itself as a common ground between ourselves and what is unfamiliar.

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When I considered Cliven Bundy in my 2014 blog post, it was not enough for me to hear his words; it was necessary for me to try to see those words at play in the landscape he occupied. But at the time I wrote “Understanding Cliven Bundy,” I had only a loose sense of how to generate historical empathy in analyzing historical sources. What I lacked was an intentional process that could incorporate a familiar visual perspective, one that provided an accepted vision of a natural landscape, whether I was familiar with it or not, with an unfamiliar

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narrative, one that I had a hard time understanding and contextualizing. Combining the strange and uncomfortable statements made by Cliven Bundy, about his past and his home, with a familiarly framed image of the public lands, signaling their wild and pristine beauty, used by Bundy could push me to better understand Cliven Bundy’s point of view.

depict their beauty, three controversies, and three discussions that illustrate the practice of configuring visual empathy and creating historical empathy.

Artist Mary P. Donahue offered me an insight into how a Bundy’s story might physically become manifest in the landscape they occupied. I saw Donahue present some of her work and discuss her artistic process at the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Symposium in the fall of 2018. Donahue’s paintings are of landscapes that carry echoes of the past. They grapple with the gigantic spaces of the Colorado Plateau, the northern Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains. They emphasize what she described as “nature stripped bare,” such as erosion formations, dead trees, remnants of physical features that were once seamless or whole. Her work features only small touches of human artifice, but their configuration in the paintings somehow implies large human impacts. She sometimes embeds words in her landscapes, descriptions, and stories that serve to change audiences’ view of that place. She writes these statements along the ground, over rocks and hills, or places them in the sky above. Her technique suggested a way to challenge the preconceived visions we have of public lands proliferated through the array of gorgeous landscape images we all strive to take by imbuing those very scenes with the specificity of human experience that is different from our own.

On July 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada. The proclamation declared:

Intentionally juxtaposing a divergent perspective against a familiarly framed place to generate visual empathy provides a springboard for cultivating greater historical empathy. I had attempted to do this with Bundy’s story, by taking his claims about his past and his family’s past seriously and through exploration of the geography of the Virgin River valley where he ranged cattle, but could not fully achieve the understanding I desired. Placing his perspective within a framing of that landscape that was more familiar is the next step. To test this process, what follows then is an experiment. Below are three public lands ranchers’ stories, three public lands places and images that

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Basin and Range National Monument and Gracian Uhalde

The Basin and Range area of southeastern Nevada is an iconic American landscape. The area is one of the most undisturbed corners of the broader Great Basin region, which extends from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the west to the Colorado Plateau in the east. The pattern of basin, fault, and range that characterizes this region creates a dramatic topography that has inspired inhabitants for thousands of years. The vast, rugged landscape redefines our notions of distance and space and brings into sharp focus the will and resolve of the people who have lived here. The unbroken expanse is an invaluable treasure for our Nation and will continue to serve as an irreplaceable resource for archaeologists, historians, and ecologists for generations to come.10 That is certainly what Bureau of Land Management photographer Bob Wick captures in the first image. Wick, a twenty-five-year BLM employee, is a self-trained photographer who works as the wilderness and wild and scenic rivers program lead in the agency’s California state office. His images are brilliantly done in the tradition of famed wildlands photographer Ansel Adams. Playing on light and shadow, meticulously crafted to reveal the natural beauty of a place with little to no human presence or evidence of human occupation, his rich images portray public lands as desirable places to visit. The BLM has lauded his photographs, noting how they “provide an immediate understanding of the importance of public lands.”11

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101 Bureau of Land Management photographer Bob Wick captured this view of the Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada, on August 30, 2015. Gracian Uhalde’s sentiments on the bottom image, as written in by Leisl Carr Childers, blends image and text to evoke the perspective of locals in the area.

Wick’s perspective is that of a caretaker of public lands and a wilderness advocate. His images of Basin and Range National Monument focus on the vast open spaces created by the basin and range geology, the petroglyphs left behind by Indigenous ancestors, and recreationists enjoying the scenic beauty and cultural wonders of the place.12 This particular image faces the viewer west and centers on a long dirt road that leads nowhere. Flanked by sagebrush and other high desert vegetation, it rolls down the valley, called Garden Valley, towards the dry playa and then is gone. The road disappears in the center of the image and lightly reappears only as it exits the frame in the center right. Framed this way, the road serves as an arrow that points to the mountains, the Quinn Canyon Range, administered as part of the Humboldt National Forest. There is no

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evidence of any human intervention save the road that leads to some distant place outside of the frame. That road, however, actually does go somewhere. In the Quinn Canyon Range, there are a handful of residences, several of which are base properties for nearby ranching operations. One of those operations belongs to the Uhalde family, who run cattle and sheep during the winter on public lands allotments in Garden Valley that have been included in Basin and Range National Monument. The Uhalde family, descendant from Basque immigrants, has been ranching in the Ely area since the late nineteenth century and expanded their winter range south in the 1960s under the Homestead Act. Their ranching operation is anchored by a small property at Adaven up

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Cherry Creek Canyon and by an array of water rights around Garden Valley.13 The presidential proclamation that designated the monument acknowledged the ranching history of the area, and subsequent planning reports have grappled with “the ranching lifestyle” as a designated monument value, anticipating that “livestock grazing will continue into the future.”14 At the signing ceremony, members of the Uhalde family were present, a tacit nod to their support of the monument.15

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Seen from the Uhaldes’ perspective, the monument looks different than Wick’s portrayal. Commenting on the insecure future of his ranching operation, Gracian N. Uhalde argued: “Because, well, I think we’re at a crossroads where, you know, this way of life, I guess I see it fading out, to a certain extent. I think if you want to and you’re hungry enough to hang onto it, there may be a chance, but the world changes so fast and things are, you know, it seems like it’s a world of eighteen hours instead of twenty-four to make a revolution nowadays. It really does. So I think it’s better you can prepare your kids for whatever event comes along.”16 The monument designation was his way of grappling with the changing landscape of public lands management.17 It was also a way for him to write his ranch back into the landscape. What then do Wick’s photographs of Basin and Range National Monument obfuscate? What happens when we write Uhalde’s story onto Wick’s images? How does this help us see Wick? Uhalde? The management of the national monument itself? Wick’s vision of the landscape that comprises the monument is that of wilderness, one that captures the magnificence of the scale of mountains and depth of the valley, but that minimizes an active human presence. The road to Wick is centered, but not meaningful. Uhalde’s vision of the landscape within the monument is that of home and livelihood; he sees forage and fence lines, water tanks and pipes, and he looks for where his livestock are settled for the day. To him the road is a throughway, a connection to home. When Wick turns his camera to Garden Valley, he erases the presence of people like Uhalde. However, they both see the same high mountains and dry playa, and chances are, they both revel in the open spaces and natural beauty of the place.

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The Checkerboard and Carrie Dann In northern Nevada, both north and south of Interstate 80 where it parallels the Central Pacific Railroad and the Humboldt River, the land tenure alternates in square mile sections between railroad land grants and public lands. Known as the Checkerboard, this area has posed the state and the Bureau of Land Management significant difficulties. The BLM leases much of this land to ranchers for grazing purposes, but for the leases to work, the ranchers have had to coordinate with the railroad company or its property management proxy to lease the alternating sections. Some of the railroad sections have been purchased by private developers, and some of the BLM sections have been homesteaded, creating pockets of private land that also have to be navigated. But it is nearly impossible to differentiate the different sections just by looking at the landscape and almost as difficult to do so through property surveys. Jhulea Marie Hill and Dakota Brice Malmrose of Flint, Michigan, according to the Eureka County Assessor’s Office, are the owners of a little over nine acres in Crescent Valley, Nevada, in the Checkerboard just south of I-80. The parcel number 003–187–03, listed as Nevelos 1–19 and given the street address 370 Fourth Street in the Nevelco, Inc. Unit 1 subdivision, is about three miles southeast of the small unincorporated town of Crescent Valley along State Highway 306. There are no buildings on the property, nor any buildings on the surrounding properties. Although not currently for sale, the property is listed on several online real estate sales platforms and has been sold five times in the last decade. The second photograph, taken by an unknown photographer to showcase the property’s viewshed appeal in sales listings, looks south and east towards the Cortez Mountains. It is one of nine images that were meant to appeal to potential buyers when the property sold in 2017.18 This particular image was the most scenic, classically framed by the photographer, with the bottom half of the photograph featuring a flat, sagebrush-covered plain and the upper half

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103 View in Crescent Valley, Eureka County, Nevada, from a parcel known as Nevelco 1–19, circa 2015. The perspective of Carrie Dann, a Western Shoshone with ancestral ties to the Crescent Valley, is written on the photo by Leisl Carr Childers.

divided between soaring snow-capped mountains and a brooding cloud-covered sky. One can imagine how a backyard with a deck would capture this view in a profound way. And because the property is part of the Checkerboard, that view is largely of open public land. There is no indication that anyone lives between where this property sits and the mountains. There is no evidence of a road, only a dry playa in the center left of the photograph. There is also no evidence of water resources that might serve the future residents of this property. The property listing indicates that a well or tank must be installed in order for water to be made available. Despite the lack of visible roads and available water in the image, there are quite a few dirt roads that crisscross Crescent Valley and a number of springs, streams, and wells

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controlled by ranchers in the region. One of the most important ranch operations in the history of Crescent Valley has been the Dann Ranch, homesteaded under the 1862 law in the 1920s, anchored by water resources comprised of running creeks and several wells, and utilizing the Checkerboard to graze livestock on public lands.19 Like the Uhaldes, the Dann family has been operating their ranch, raising cattle and horses, throughout the twentieth century for multiple generations. But the Danns are Western Shoshone, part of a vast network of Indigenous peoples who occupy Nevada and other interior western states in a region sometimes called the Great Basin. Their interests parallel those of the Uhaldes, but with one important difference. The Danns have viewed Crescent Valley as part of their ancestral homeland, Newe Sogobia, and claim aboriginal title to that land.20

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Seen from the Danns’ perspective, although this second photograph does convey a view grounded in the idea of home, it is a vastly different depiction of home. Rather than an image of potential home, it is a vision of ancestral home. Speaking to the difficulty and importance of maintaining possession of their home, Carrie Dann commented, “My struggle has been, you know, to make some kind of a livelihood for, for myself my family and of course you know our people. . . . But here we used to survive on whatever is out there on the land. Today, we don’t have that out there on the land. . . . And as indigenous peoples, the most important thing is our future generations. Our grandmother used to tell us, ‘This land don’t belong to you, it belongs to the future.’”21 How does this image of a lucrative real estate parcel change in light of Dann’s words? What assumptions lie behind the concept of this property and of its adjacent public lands? What is being erased in this photograph? The Nevelos 1–19 property is owned, according to the county assessor’s office, by a couple of residents of Michigan. But Dann’s perspective is that land belongs only to future generations. Are Hill and Malmrose good caretakers? Do they appreciate, utilize, or enjoy these lands? Or are these acres merely dollars on a deed they hope will appreciate over time? The Dann family fought for decades in the late twentieth century to force the BLM to give them proper consideration on public lands grazing allotments. They litigated against the federal government to secure Indigenous title over Crescent Valley and the rest of Newe Sogobia. Can Hill and Malmrose, or for that matter any of us, even see that in this photograph, or is that truth entirely hidden in the framing of the image? The overlay of Carrie Dann’s words on the image of the Nevelos 1–19 property convicts us of our ignorance of the Dann family’s deep and abiding connection to this place.

Gold Butte National Monument and Cliven Bundy Gold Butte National Monument was the last monument created by the exiting Obama administration on December 28, 2016. Highly controversial, the designation divided local

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interests in Clark County, Nevada, between those who supported expanding natural areas around the Las Vegas valley and those who saw the monument designation as an impediment to future development. According to its proclamation, the monument features an extraordinary variety of diverse and irreplaceable scientific, historic, and prehistoric resources, including vital plant and wildlife habitat, significant geological formations, rare fossils, important sites from the history of Native Americans, and remnants of our Western mining and ranching heritage. The landscape reveals a story of thousands of years of human interaction with this harsh environment and provides a rare glimpse into the lives of Nevada’s first inhabitants, the rich and varied indigenous cultures that followed, and the eventual arrival of Euro-American settlers. Canyons and intricate rock formations are a stunning backdrop to the area’s famously beautiful rock art, and the desert provides critical habitat for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise.22 Bob Wick, the well-known BLM photographer, photographed the Gold Butte area only months before the monument designation occurred. In keeping with his pattern of framing images of natural spaces with an eye towards capturing the natural beauty of the place, Wick turned his lens on the petroglyphs and deeply colored sandstone that makes the monument spectacular. Taken of one of the primary rock formations, this final image captures the interplay of evening light and shadow across the landscape. The framing of gently sloping creosote-covered desert and emerging red and gold sandstone below a cloud-strewn sky provides a sense of the vast desert the monument encompasses. The focus of the camera capturing the hint of a dirt road curving between and beyond the sandstone formations provides the only clue to how this remote place might be accessed.23 Wick’s view of Gold Butte National Monument stands in direct contrast to that of the Bundy family, whose cattle still roam the region. The monument designation talked about remnants

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105 Bob Wick’s photograph of Gold Butte National Monument in southeastern Nevada, September 27, 2016, with the perspective of Cliven Bundy written in by Leisl Carr Childers.

of a ranching past, but the Bundys insisted upon continuing to ranch in the present. The Bureau of Land Management had permitted the Bundys to run cattle on a grazing allotment now encompassed by the national monument throughout the late twentieth century. The story of the demise of the Bundys’ cattle ranch has centered on the refusal of Cliven Bundy to pay the necessary grazing fees to the BLM since 1993 and the family patriarch’s strange, religiously devout, sovereign citizen-like ideology. The events at Bunkerville in 2014 were actually the culmination of a transformation in land management that put the family in the middle of BLM and Clark County negotiations for: consolidation of public lands into areas earmarked for development and those set aside to protect the endangered desert tortoise and its habitat; the BLM increasing restrictions on and fees for a severely decreased

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number of grazing permits; and the emerging pressure on individually held water resources from both the behemoth Southern Nevada Water Authority in the Las Vegas valley and the emerging Virgin Valley Water District to the north in Mesquite.24 Also missing from Wick’s framing of Gold Butte National Monument are the ways in which the Bundys are able to maintain their cattle on the national monument despite the closure of the grazing allotment and the perpetual state of trespass of the family’s cattle. Cliven Bundy still holds significant water rights on the monument at various springs, including near the site of where Wick took his photograph.25 Bundy has an emphatic view of his rights to the land that once comprised the BLM’s Bunkerville Allotment and that now comprises the monument. He argues: “And when that horse takes

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the very first sip of that renewable resource, he is beginning to create a beneficial use of that resource. And from that point on, he is the first white man basically to create a beneficial use for man and when that horse takes that drink and so he’s first come, first served, I think. So he has created the first beneficial use of that resource. Renewable resource. . . . That’s how our rights are created.”26

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What does this change in Wick’s depiction of Gold Butte National Monument? How should we grapple with the discrepancy between his vision of this place and that of the Bundys? How do these rights square with those of visitors to the monument, those who might interact with the cattle and the water? Any disagreement with the Bundys’ position does not change their relationship to these water rights; they are embedded in the disposition of the landscape even more, perhaps, than the monument designation. It is this relationship that allows the family’s cattle to continue to be present in the monument despite the closure of the grazing allotment. As long as the cattle have access to those water sources they will remain in the area. But even during the period in which Bundy held valid grazing permits and paid the grazing fees, his water rights gave him priority on the Bunkerville Allotment. Although grazing permits are not directly tied to water rights, they are impossible to secure because permittees have to demonstrate that the livestock being permitted have access to adequate water. Cliven Bundy’s belief in his right to use the land that is now a national monument because of the water rights he holds on that land is well-founded because of this configuration. Whether we want to believe it or not, the Bundy’s have legitimate concerns with how their rights have been abrogated.

Coming to Grips with Empathy The cornerstone of historical empathy is understanding, not agreement. Although it is far easier to understand people with whom we personally agree or narratives that we relate to, the historian is tasked with understanding the multiple perspectives that make up any situation. Neither is agreement the task of public lands management. But understanding is, or at least it should be.

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Getting at that understanding can be difficult. Narrative can only take us so far into the realm of empathy. Beyond written stories, landscapes can be entry points into and common grounds for understanding other particularly different or divergent perspectives by creating geo-empathy. However, for many of us including myself, it is better to see the landscape in a familiar way and to see the words depicting unfamiliar perspectives within that landscape. That is the realm of visual empathy. In putting images framed in a familiar way together with unfamiliar perspectives, we challenge the preconceived perceptions we bring to bear in both source analysis and in how we perceive our public lands. Bob Wick’s photographs of the two newest national monuments in Nevada and the image by an unknown photographer portraying a potential home property provide familiar entry points into places we may or may not have seen ourselves. These images communicate the grandeur of seemingly empty, wide-open spaces. They glory in the natural beauty of the places they capture. Integrating the perspectives of the Uhaldes, Danns, and Bundys into these landscapes, and overlaying their words onto that familiar wildland framing, offers necessary insight into how these families navigate and perceive these places differently. For Gracian Uhalde, the lands that comprise Basin and Range National Monument have offered him a sense of security because they include his ranching operation. For Carrie Dann, the Nevelos 1–19 property erases her connection to the long legacy of her ancestors on that land. And for Cliven Bundy, the lands that have become Gold Butte National Monument represent his detachment from valid water rights granted him by the state. Because all of these places consist, at least for the most part, of public lands, visual empathy also offers a way to ameliorate the difficulty of understanding the different perspectives that those who use public lands take. Juxtaposing the framing and position of the photographer and their image, and the alternate, if not oppositional, narrative position of the historical actor can lead us to a better understanding of both. It pushes us to question what the creator of the image leaves out that is important to the narrator, to see the type of emphasis the

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Leisl Carr Childers, “Understanding Cliven Bundy,” BlogWest (blog), April 21, 2014, https://blogwest.org /2014/04/21/understanding-cliven-bundy/. Emphasis added. Tay Wiles, “How the Feds Helped Make Cliven Bundy a Celebrity,” High Country News, April 30, 2018, https://www .hcn.org/issues/50.7/sagebrush-rebellion-celebrity -scofflaw. Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001), 90. Carr Childers, “Understanding Cliven Bundy.” Suzanne Keen, Empathy and the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 4–5. Keen, 93–98. Emphasis added. Eve C. Sorum, Modernist Empathy: Geography, Elegy, and the Uncanny (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 30. Emphasis in the original. Sorum, 30–31. Margaret Dikovitskaya, Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual after the Cultural Turn (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 56–58. “Proclamation 9297—Establishment of the Basin and Range National Monument,” July 10, 2015, https://www .govinfo.gov/content/pkg/DCPD-201500486/pdf /DCPD-201500486.pdf. “Introducing Guest Photo Editor Bob Wick!,” My Public Lands, https://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/post /57165462352/introducing-guest-photo-editor-bob -wick-as-our-my. Bureau of Land Management, Basin and Range National Monument Album, Flickr, accessed January 15, 2020, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mypubliclands /albums/72157655302466798. Leisl Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015), 5, 161–62. “Analysis of the Management Situation,” Bureau of Land Management, December 15, 2017, 81, https://eplanning .blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/lup/63341/130728 /159524/BARNM_AMS_2017-12-21.pdf. Steve Tetrault, “Obama Signs Proclamation Creating Nevada National Monument,” Las Vegas ReviewJournal, July 10, 2015, https://www.reviewjournal .com/local/local-nevada/obama-signs-proclamation -creating-nevada-national-monument/. Gracian N. Uhalde, partially quoted in Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk, 14. Full quote in Uhalde, interview with Leisl Carr Childers, December 1, 2006, 42, in author’s possession. Emphasis added. Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk, 14 and 218. Crescent Valley Nevelos 1–19 (T29N, R48, Sec. 15, Lot 19) LandAndFarm.com, https://www.landandfarm.com

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/property/Crescent_Valley_Nevelos_1_19-2858073/. 19 General Land Office Record 1018825, August 30, 1928; Nevada State Water Right certificates 2360 and 2361 (January 22, 1938), 4832 (December 10, 1958), 5553 (June 13, 1963), 9151 (December 27, 1978), 10376 (October 26, 1982), and 12653 (February 1, 1991). 20 Rebecca Solnit, Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 170–73. 21 Carrie Dann, interview with Samantha Senda-Cook, August 19, 2009, 7, 18, Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=800843; Carrie Dann, interview with Norm Cavanaugh, July 17, 2008, 7, Great Basin Indian Archives, https://www .gbcnv.edu/gbia/manuscripts/oral_histories/GBIA019 _CarrieDann_07172008.pdf. Emphasis added. 22 “Proclamation 9559—Establishment of the Gold Butte National Monument,” December 28, 2016, https:// www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/DCPD-201600876/pdf /DCPD-201600876.pdf. 23 Bureau of Land Management, Gold Butte National Monument Album, Flickr, accessed January 15, 2020, https:// www.flickr.com/photos/mypubliclands/albums /72157676771118551. Although Bob Wick is not listed as the creator of the images in this album, the digital identifier of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera (72157622292089908) used to create the images of Gold Butte National Monument matches that of the same camera used by Bob Wick to create other images for the BLM in Utah. See Bureau of Land Management—Utah, Bob Wick Photography Album, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ blmutah/albums /72157667127260909. 24 Jamie Fuller, “Everything You Need to Know about the Long Fight between Cliven Bundy and the Federal Government,” Washington Post, April 15, 2014, and reposted January 4, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost .com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you -need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven -bundy-and-the-federal-government/; Leah Sottile, “Bundyville Chapter 3: A Clan Not to Cross,” Bundyville Podcast, May 2018, https://longreads.com/2018 /05/17/bundyville-chapter-three-a-clan-not-to-cross/; John Temple, Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America’s Patriot Militia Movement (Dallas, TX: Ben Bella Books, 2019), 39–66. 25 Nevada State Water Right vested rights V08974V08984, October 21, 1997. 26 Cliven Bundy, interview with Cliven, Ryan, and Carol Bundy, March 4, 2015, quoted in Betsy Gaines Quammen, “American Zion: Mormon Perspectives on Landscape from Zion National Park to the Bundy Family War” (PhD diss., Montana State University, 2017), 240, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.library.colo state.edu/docview/1910864226?accountid=10223.

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Geographer John Wright once wrote that land tenure in the American West is a Darwinian struggle, meaning that “places are best seen as shifting stages where the exercise of power and resistance to it vie for dominance. The matter of land tenure will always form the spatial musculature of this fractious region.”1 Land tenure conflicts take on a distinctive character in the West precisely because they often focus on public lands, and have coalesced periodically into collective challenges, or rebellions, against federal authority. Historian William Graf describes some of the most significant early rebellions. The first focused on the adequacy of land grant authorities and the need for irrigation, and it ended with the General Revision Act of 1891. The second dealt with forested lands, particularly after presidents in the 1890s and 1900s reserved millions of acres of what we now call national forests in the West, and it ended around the time of the Weeks Act of 1911. The third focused on grazing land and mineral rights, and it calmed considerably after the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934.2 The last three rebellions—the Sagebrush Rebellion (1979–1982), the War for the West (1990–1999), and what I’ll call the Patriot Rebellion (2009– 2016)—fit into the historical pattern of conflict, but they also reveal an important evolution in the political geography of public lands. Whereas the Sagebrush Rebellion was a regional conflict rooted in states’ rights and waged by those with material interests in public lands and resources, the Patriot Rebellion was a national challenge rooted in states’ rights, gun rights, private property rights, and even religious expression, waged by a broad, national coalition of conservatives. Through this evolution, conservative westerners have gained national support and resources to defend their interests, but it has come at a cost.

The Sagebrush Rebellion The Sagebrush Rebellion erupted in the late 1970s in response to the environmental movement and its expanding influence in public lands law and management.3 For example, in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), Congress declared for the first time that the

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109 Newsweek cover, September 17, 1979, “The Angry West.” Used with permission of Newsweek Copyright© 2020. All rights reserved.

United States would retain public lands permanently and manage them for multiple uses, affirming the BLM’s growing managerial power. Indeed, Congress signaled this clearly in FLPMA by granting the BLM law enforcement authority.4 In this new context, ranchers were frustrated with increased grazing fees and reduced grazing permits; miners and county officials, particularly in states such as Utah and Nevada, were frustrated with restrictions on road construction and motorized vehicle use on public lands; and timber workers were frustrated with reductions in federal harvesting.5 And they were frustrated more broadly by the ideological shift in public lands management toward environmental protection. Having once stood at the top of a multiple-use hierarchy, they felt they were being shoved to the bottom by eastern and urban environmentalists.6 By

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turning to their state legislatures, they hoped to contract the boundaries of public lands decision-making to the state level where they maintained greater influence. Nevada launched the Sagebrush Rebellion in 1979, when 85 percent of the state legislature cosponsored a bill asserting state ownership of all unreserved public lands within its boundaries.7 They argued that the U.S. Constitution’s “equal footings” clause prohibited the federal government from owning a disproportionate amount of land in the West. Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming all followed suit, and most other western states at least debated this type of legislation. Western delegations to Congress also introduced federal legislation, unsuccessfully, to transfer public lands to the states. First-term Utah senator

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Orrin Hatch, who spearheaded introduction of the bill in the U.S. Senate, complained that the “BLM is oppressive. Where there used to be one BLM man per county, now there are 60 of them, stumbling over each other, acting like little gods.”8 It was time, he said, to end this federal tyranny.

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The Reagan administration, swept into power in 1981, effectively ended the Sagebrush Rebellion, not by transferring public lands to the states but by showing greater deference to western state governments. President Reagan’s first Interior secretary, James Watt, later recalled, “I met with the governors in September 1981. . . . I said, ‘Whatever you guys want, you get. We were going to be good neighbors.’ They didn’t know how to handle that. They had been fighting so long. They couldn’t cope with a Secretary of the Interior who said, ‘Take it.’”9 Watt meant what he said, and during his brief tenure as secretary he eased restrictions on extractive uses of public lands. The Reagan administration did more than simply address the rebels’ concerns, however; it helped integrate the rebels into a new conservative coalition that formed in the late 1970s around a shared antipathy toward federal regulation, whether of public lands, education, worker safety, guns, private property, or religious expression. This coalition modeled itself after the progressive rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, both in organization and argument, but it used the language of constitutional rights to defend economic activities and conservative cultural values.10

The War for the West The War for the West, 1990–1999, erupted in response to ecological emphases in public lands management and attending restrictions on grazing, logging, and road access. Congress had not passed any significant new legislation, but judicial rulings under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 were forcing the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to focus less on resource outputs and more on ecological health. This was evident in the growing emphasis on riparian protection in range management, protecting viable populations of

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all vertebrate species in forest management, and adoption of a new paradigm called “ecosystem management.”11 Westerners interested in natural resource development once again believed that they were being shoved to the bottom of the multiple-use hierarchy. The War for the West, it should be noted, was really less a rebellion and more a decade of political unrest. Sometimes also called Sagebrush II, the name War for the West came from a cover article in Newsweek, and it was embraced by those in Congress who were fighting to restore higher levels of natural resource outputs from the public lands. The name, in other words, served as a broad umbrella, particularly in Washington, and less as an organizing or animating movement for public lands users in their individual conflicts. The War for the West was broader than the Sagebrush Rebellion in at least two important respects. First, it reflected a broader anxiety about government control. Many rebels saw public lands restrictions as evidence of both federal tyranny and a growing international threat from the “new world order.” Said another way, anxiety focused on more than regional autonomy; it focused on the very survival of national sovereignty.12 Second, and closely related, the scope of the rebellion expanded from a campaign waged primarily by state legislatures in 1979 and 1980 to one also waged by county governments, national conservative organizations, and a broad swath of the Republican Party. Put in constitutional terms, the Sagebrush Rebellion had been a Tenth Amendment challenge. The War for the West, since it was supported by a broader political coalition, challenged federal authority using almost the entire Bill of Rights. The Wise Use movement of the 1990s illustrated this clearly. Led by Alan Gottlieb, Ron Arnold, and Charles Cushman, the movement raised funds and built support by connecting anger over public lands management with national frustration with restrictions on private property use and guns (Fifth and Second Amendments, respectively). Indeed, the War for the West was what the columnist Garry Wills called an expression of “constitutional anti-governmentalism,” which transcended regional boundaries.13

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The War for the West swept through state legislatures, this time with national support. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a libertarian advocacy organization for state legislators, offered model legislation with titles such as the “Constitutional Defense Council Act,” “Resolution to Restate State Sovereignty,” “Joint Committee on Federal Mandates Act,” and “Federal Mandate/Federal Encroachment on State Sovereignty Act.”15 Western states, including Utah, enacted several of these model bills. The War for the West also swept through county governments. Lawyer Karen BuddFalen, who worked in James Watt’s Interior department and the Mountain States Legal Foundation, helped convince western county governments that federal law protected their “customs and culture.” As long as they passed ordinances that clearly identified resource development on public lands as a core feature of their identity, she explained, federal agencies would be forced to support those activities. In what became known as the County Supremacy movement, many counties produced land use plans or ordinances that identified grazing, mining, and logging as pillars of their culture and rejected federal authority to reduce or constrain them. Utah counties featured prominently in the War for the West, particularly

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Unlike prior rebellions, the Patriot Rebellion did not start in the West or with public lands. It started in the Tea Party and Patriot movements, which exploded after President Obama’s election and passage of the Affordable Care Act. This national rebellion against federal power started with marches and rallies on the Washington Mall, with Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, and with the formation of militia support groups such as Oath Keepers and the III% Patriots. It focused on public lands in the West, not because of any significant new conflicts, but rather because public lands are such visible representations of federal power in the region.

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The War for the West lost momentum after President George W. Bush took office, though it did not end as decisively as the Sagebrush Rebellion. This stemmed partly from ongoing tensions between conservative user groups (such as energy and ranching interests), partly from judicial rulings that upheld environmental protection, and partly from the fact that public lands issues were politically integrated with other important issues that remained contested.

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in their battles over road rights-of-way across public lands.16

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Just as the War for the West reflected a broader constellation of issues than the Sagebrush Rebellion, it was advanced by a much broader range of conservatives. Rebels had powerful new advocates in the media, such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, who forged a common anti-federal narrative that Republicans used to retake the House of Representatives in 1994. A number of western members, such as Helen Chenoweth (R-ID), rode the War for the West to Washington, where they found sympathetic eastern colleagues. The War for the West also included a more extreme end of the conservative spectrum, namely the resurgent militia movement comprised of people who were prepared to “kill and die for the Constitution.”14 Militias and their congressional defenders were animated by particularly dark conspiracy theories about federal plans to disarm Americans, imprison them, and cede their freedoms to the United Nations.

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The Patriot Rebellion had multiple fronts. In 2010, Governor Gary Herbert signed a law that purportedly authorized the state to exercise eminent domain power over public lands unless the federal government had purchased those lands with the state’s consent.17 ALEC adopted this as model legislation, entitled the “Eminent Domain Authority for Federal Lands Act.” ALEC approved another piece of model legislation in 2012—the “Disposal and Taxation of Public Lands Act”—which the Utah State legislature passed almost immediately. The act, echoing legislation from the Sagebrush Rebellion, demanded transfer of federal lands to the state.18 Western counties joined the fray, demanding that federal agencies accommodate county demands in their land use planning. Attorney Fred Kelly Grant traveled the West, encouraging

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Cover image of High Country News dated February 8, 2016, showing an armed member of the Oath Keepers standing guard at the Sugar Pine Mine in Josephine County, Oregon, in an operation aimed at defending the constitutional rights of two miners last April. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters. Used with permission.

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county governments to pass what became another piece of ALEC model legislation: “State Sovereignty through Local Coordination Act.”19 The Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Forest Management Act require the BLM and the Forest Service, respectively, to “coordinate” their land use planning with local governments. While the agencies and the courts interpreted this to mean a coordination process, Grant argued that it meant the two agencies had a legal obligation to align their land use planning substantively with county demands. This was simply a variation on the County Supremacy movement of the 1990s. The Patriot Rebellion also included an extreme element: militias and county law enforcement officers calling themselves “constitutional sheriffs.” Both argued that they could disregard federal laws they believed violated the Constitution, and both argued that the Second

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Amendment protected their right to resist federal authority with force. These two groups played key roles in a variety of armed standoffs on public lands, including a standoff in 2014 at Cliven Bundy’s family ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, and an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. These disparate interests and actions—county and state legislation and militia action—were given a common narrative through national conservative media and the Republican Party, even though the tactics or even aims of the Bundy family and the wildlife refuge takeover were not embraced by all supporters of the Patriot Rebellion. Fox News hosts Greta Van Susteren, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity all covered public lands issues during the rebellion, and Hannity initially treated Cliven Bundy as a heroic patriot.20 Opposition to public lands ownership was so well-established in mainstream conservative circles that the Republican National

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President Trump’s election reflects a remarkable nationalization of sagebrush rebellion politics, which has undoubtedly given western conservatives more resources with which to defend their interests. But it has also come at a cost. Public lands issues are now bound so tightly to national partisanship that there is little room on the ground for constructive compromise. Just as local chapters of environmental organizations sometimes find that their particular desires are vetoed by their organizations’ national priorities, conservatives working on local compromises sometimes find those interests thwarted by national conservative demands. The people of Burns, Oregon, adjacent to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, experienced this in 2016. They had developed a constructive working relationship with federal land agencies and achieved several compromise land use plans as a result. They did not, in any collective way, ask for or support the armed occupation of the wildlife refuge. Indeed, their elective officials repeatedly asked the out-ofstate occupiers to leave. Though this was an extreme case, it illustrates ways in which a national rebellion can trump local or even regional interests.22 In a general sense, the tactics and demands of some within the movement have poisoned the well for other voices and goodfaith approaches to the management, development, preservation, and control of public lands.

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The most recent evidence of this comes from the Bureau of Land Management, which is in the process of moving its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colorado, where it will share an office building with oil and gas companies. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt explained that the move would provide increased accountability and resources to the “front lines” of public lands management.23 Since the vast majority of BLM employees— over 95 percent—already work on the “front lines,” adding a few hundred additional employees from the Washington office is primarily a symbolic gesture. The agency’s other top priorities for 2020 include increasing oil and gas production and reducing regulations.24

2

Public lands conflicts continue to form part of what Wright called the “spatial musculature” of the American West. But evolution from the Sagebrush Rebellion to the Patriot Rebellion shows that the underlying challenge to federal authority has lost its regional distinction. Indeed, the public lands have become a regional stage for conservative challenges to federal authority.

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The Patriot Rebellion quieted to some extent with President Trump’s election in 2016, primarily because the new president validated it at every turn. The Trump administration reduced the size of two Utah national monuments; pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been held in criminal contempt of court for ongoing racial profiling; appointed Karen Budd-Falen and William Pendley, who both had worked for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, to prominent positions in the Interior Department; moved the BLM headquarters to Colorado to make it more responsive to western interests; denigrated federal bureaucracies repeatedly; and, most important, promised to crush environmentalists and the liberal elite. The “constitutional anti-governmentalists” had a champion in the White House.

Conclusion

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Committee made transferring public lands to the states a priority in its 2016 platform.21

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To a certain extent, the Trump administration is simply repeating Secretary Watt’s pledge to western communities that depend on federal resource development: “Whatever you guys want, you get.”25 But two caveats are in order. First, the West has changed since the Reagan administration, becoming increasingly urban, and many westerners now appreciate the amenity values of public lands more than the economic values. The Trump administration, then, is not so much showing regional deference as it is showing deference to particular conservative constituencies and exacerbating the partisan tensions over public lands management. Second, the Trump administration reflects an anti-governmentalism that has deepened among conservatives since the Reagan administration. President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon explained that the president’s goal was nothing less than “deconstruction of the administrative state,” and moving the BLM’s headquarters to Grand Junction serves this goal by encouraging some of the

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agency’s most senior career staff to quit.26 This interpretation isn’t reading between the lines. Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney explained that “it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” but if you tell them that “we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside this liberal haven and move you out into the real part of the country . . . they quit. What a wonderful way to streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”27 For Mulvaney at least, relocating the BLM’s headquarters will have the desired effect of reducing the BLM’s most experienced professional staff, which will ensure that more power flows to rural western communities and political appointees in Washington.28 If a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, the BLM can expect its priorities and its staffing to shift dramatically once again. The agency will still prioritize energy development, issue grazing permits, and offer timber sales; and it will continue to consult with local and state governments. Still, its priorities will shift toward greater ecological protection and amenity values of the public lands. If this happens, another wave of conservative rebellion is almost sure to follow. Notes John B. Wright, “Land Tenure: The Spatial Musculature of the American West,” in Western Places, American Myths: How We Think about the West, ed. Gary J. Hausladen (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2003), 85. 2 William L. Graf, Wilderness Preservation and the Sagebrush Rebellions (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1990). 3 The Wilderness Act of 1964, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 9171, Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, etc. R. McGreggor Cawley, Federal Land, Western Anger: The Sagebrush Rebellion and Environmental Politics (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993). 4 Dennis McLane, Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word: A History of Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement (Guthrie, OK: Shoppe Foreman Publishing, 2011), 223–47. 5 See, for example, Jedediah S. Rogers, Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2013). 6 Leisl Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015), 228.

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Lee Adler, “‘Sagebrush Rebellion’ Soldiers Open Fire,” Reno Gazette-Journal, April 5, 1979. Margot Hornblower, “The Sagebrush Revolution,” Washington Post, November 11, 1979. James Watt, “Interview,” ed. Patty Limerick (Boulder, CO: Center of the American West, 2004), 9. Jefferson Decker, The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 3. See James R. Skillen, Federal Ecosystem Management: Its Rise, Fall, and Afterlife (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015). William Chaloupka, “The County Supremacy and Militia Movements: Federalism as an Issue on the Radical Right,” Publius 26, no. 3 (1996). Garry Wills, “The New Revolutionaries,” New York Review of Books (1995). Jared A. Goldstein, “To Kill and Die for the Constitution: How Devotion to the Constitution Leads to Violence” (February 26, 2015), Roger Williams University Legal Studies Paper No. 158, https://ssrn.com/abstract =2570893. Dana R. Bennett, “State Sovereignty” (Reno, NV: Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau, 1995), 99. Bret C. Birdsong, “Road Rage and R.S. 2477: Judicial and Administrative Responsibility for Resolving Road Claims on Public Land,” Hastings Law Journal 56 (2005); Scott W. Reed, “The County Supremacy Movement: Mendacious Myth Making,” Idaho Law Review 30 (1994). Utah Code Ann. §78B-6-503.5 (2010). See H.B. 148: Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study, http://le.utah.gov/~2012/status/hbillsta/hb0148 .htm; Nick Lawton, “Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act: Demanding a Gift of Federal Lands,” Vermont Journal of Environmental Law 16, no. 1 (2014): 13–14. “State Sovereignty through Local Coordination Act,” ALEC, approved September 19, 2010, https://www.alec .org/model-policy/state-sovereignty-through-local -coordination-act/. See, for example, Erik Wemple, “Fox News on the Colorado Cabin: A Case Study in Land-Use Coverage,” Washington Post, May 9, 2014. “Republican Platform 2016” (Washington: Republican National Committee, 2016), 21. See, for example, Peter Walker, Sagebrush Collaboration: How Harney County Defeated the Takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2018). Scott Streater, “BLM Picks New Headquarters,” Greenwire, July 15, 2019. “Internal Email Lays out BLM Goals—Including Heading West,” Greenwire, November 20 2019. Watt, “Interview,” 9. Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Bannon Vows a Daily Fight for ‘Deconstruction of the Administrative State,’” Washington Post, February 23, 2017. Eric Katz, “Mulvaney: Relocating Offices Is a ‘Wonderful Way’ to Shed Federal Employees,” Government Executive, August 5, 2019. Scott Streater, “80% of D.C. Staffers Could Leave BLM,” Greenwire, December 12, 2019.

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The public lands in the western United States are valued and considered significant by many individuals and groups. Native American tribal cultural and historical perspectives are different than they are for other user groups, given the tribes’ long historical ties to the land. Tribal beliefs and actions are often silent and unseen by the public, and are often misunderstood, denied, or ignored by the general public and by state and federal land managers. This is largely due to Indian displacement that occurred on what became public lands. In the Great Basin region, the removal of Native peoples from their indigenous homelands onto reservations made room for Euro-American settlers, ranchers, miners, and others, and for federal claims of ownership to the public domain. The removal of Indian people from their lands, whether forcible or voluntarily, generally stripped them of authorized use of those lands, creating a need for Native peoples to return surreptitiously to utilize necessary subsistence resources and traditional locations.

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Public Lands and American Indians: Traditional Use and Off-Reservation Treaty Rights

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As part of the multilayered debates over public land use, American Indians and tribes are finally—and increasingly—voicing their concerns. For decades, as Americans “discovered” the wonders of the natural landscapes in the West, non-Indian activities have received the focus of attention. But Indians have always had a presence there, taciturn but active. Indian people were the original inhabitants of vast lands throughout the West. Since time immemorial, Native people have lived in the northern Great Basin region; these people, who are now known as the Bannock, Shoshone, and Northern Paiute, called themselves the Newe or the Numa, which translates to “the Indian people.” The sovereign Newe bands all lived within Bia Sogope, which means “our big lands” in Shoshoni, referring to the entire aboriginal territory of the Newe. As Euro-American settlement expanded into Indians lands in the nineteenth century, the federal government took ownership of those lands and transferred portions of them to states, private citizens, and even private companies. The United States retained and

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designated large areas for national purposes, such as national forests, parks, and monuments. Yet displaced American Indians remember that the public lands are the last vestiges of their tribal ancestral lands. The United States has recognized the importance of preserving national, state, and local heritage sites and areas, and Congress has created federal heritage laws to identity, evaluate, and preserve historic properties for future generations.1 Other federal statutes direct how to address natural resources, including water, wildlife, and vegetation—all vital to tribal groups.2 These laws provide requirements for federal land managers to engage in meaningful and good faith consultation with tribes and to consider the American Indian historical land use and traditional cultural properties on public lands.3 Tribes rely on sincere efforts in tribal consultation with federal agencies, as tribal members continue to exercise their inherent and treaty-reserved rights.

Federal land managers are required to incorporate tribal rights and issues into their management plans. The general public must understand that, far from being another special interest group, tribes have valid rights to the use of public lands based on their sovereign political status as tribal governments. Individual tribal members have inherent rights to engage in religious, ceremonial, and other activities not specifically ceded in treaties.4 Given increasing competition on public lands, it is important for the general public to understand that tribal members continue to conduct traditional activities on these lands. For example, along rivers and streams where anadromous fisheries are present, Shoshone-Bannock Tribal members continue to hunt for Chinook salmon, using traditional spear poles during both day and night fishing. Gathering activities include digging camas, bitterroot, wild carrots, and other plants, along with harvesting pine nuts

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Shoshone-Bannock tribal members harvesting pine nuts at Castle Rocks State Park, Idaho, 2012. Courtesy Yvette Tuell.

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In 2012, during the public involvement process, members of the Twin Falls BLM Resource Advisory Council (RAC) with varying interests in public lands weighed in on the issues.8 My nomination to the RAC, approved by the Secretary of the Interior, was to represent tribal interests; the majority of the other RAC members, however, had no knowledge of tribes and tribal rights and activities on public lands. They were surprised to learn that in the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ (Tribes) consultation with Twin Falls District BLM officials, the Tribes had offered strong opposition to the proposed rock climbing and recreational uses of the BLM lands. Rock climbers have their own reverence of the land, and most members of the advisory council expected the Indians to share the rock climbers’ respect for the cliffs and exhilaration in climbing them.

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The opposing view of rock climbers was striking. From the Tribes’ perspective, climbers are newcomers, based on their own claim of using the rock cliffs only since the 1990s. Once “discovered” by the rock climbers, the granitic rock cliffs had become a popular destination for recreationalists. A local climber, Jack Brennan of the Eastern Idaho Climbers Association, stated, “We think there should be a common ground between the BLM and rock climbers. Climbing has been taking place in these areas for years. We should not have our freedoms taken away now.”10 This expansive concept of “freedoms” is synonymous with rights, whereby citizens believe they have a right to use public lands for specific activities. However, although public land managers can permit activities in specific areas, rock climbers enjoy no guaranteed rights. Conversely, federally recognized tribes have long-held traditions on public lands or treaty-reserved rights: there is no question that they retain strong tribal rights on public lands.

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The conflicting cultural perspectives regarding use of the outdoors is evident in the case of the Cedar Fields Archeological District and the Snake River Recreational Area, located on the north bank of the Snake River, west of American Falls, Idaho.5 Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, rock climbing, and hiking are among the recreational activities that occur there. Cedar Fields, established as an archeological district in 1999, contains a significant concentration of Native American archeological and historic sites.6 Due to tribal concerns over the degradation of archeological sites from an increase in unmanaged OHV use, the Bureau of Land Management began development of a management plan.7 The issues raised by the tribes included damage to several thousand-year-old archeological sites and petroglyphs, obscene graffiti, unauthorized OHV use, and failure to protect traditional cultural properties within the boundaries of the archeological district.

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Rock Climbing and Archeological Protection

Members of the public who attended the planning meetings in January 2012 also voiced their conflicting perspectives. I expected the majority of the non-Indian public to oppose any tribal request to discontinue rock climbing in the Cedar Fields area. That expectation was fulfilled when two special interest groups who represented the rock climbers expressed derision and disrespect toward the Indians’ cultural perspective of rock climbing. Tribal members offered their cultural and ceremonial views of the sandy and rocky cliffs of the Cedar Fields area. Tribal people regard natural rock formations as representative of the earth’s power; they are perceived as a living force, alive and powerful. Rock shapes often appear as the outlines of animals and people, and tribal stories explain the power of rocks and the intrinsic relationship between humans and nature. “These places are sacred,” Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Merceline Boyer said at one of the meetings. “It’s where our ancestors went and it’s where we still go today. We want this land protected.”9

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and chokecherries. Conflicting public perceptions and awareness of land ownership and management, as well as safety concerns, are pragmatic issues for tribal members. Two major recreational issues conflicting with tribal inherent rights and treaty-reserved rights will be addressed here.

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As an RAC member, it was my responsibility to express the tribal concerns and to help shape the proposed RAC recommendations to the BLM managers. After verbal discussions and a long, hot site visit to the Cedar Fields area,

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where the RAC members visually experienced the quietness and felt the heat and power of the rock cliffs, it seemed that the non-Indian RAC members were coming to understand the tribal perspectives. At the final RAC meeting, several members offered heartfelt thanks to me, as the tribal representative, for sharing such transcendent tribal beliefs with them. Unfortunately, the final RAC recommendation reflected the makeup of the council, and while RAC members had learned much about tribes and their cultural traditions, the council’s final recommendations—to allow continued use by recreationalists, to mitigate vegetation losses within the archeological district, and to camouflage climbing bolts pounded into the rock cliffs—did not reflect that new education. None of the concerns raised by the tribes was addressed in the RAC’s recommendations. In the fifteen-member advisory council, only Yvette Tuell voted against the recommendation, stating, “Just because you can have multiple-use on public lands, doesn’t mean you should have multiple-use.”11 While the BLM has not completed the NEPA process to determine the final management plan for this area, it remains to be seen how federal land managers will balance protection of American Indian cultural resources and treaty rights with recreational uses allowed on public lands.

Traditional Tribal Camping Concurrent with the rise of outdoor recreation is the emergence of a large camping industry offering the latest in gear and activities. Tribal definitions of camping are different than those of the non-Indian recreational camper, and when land managers develop camping regulations focused on non-Indian campers, conflicts result with traditional tribal camping practices. Land managers, determined to provide state-of-the-art campground amenities, develop and impose camping fees, identify developed and dispersed camping areas, establish parking restrictions or fees, and restrict parking or driving off roads. But the growing number of campers compromises the ability of tribal members to carry on with their long-held traditions of hunting, fishing, gathering, and conducting ceremonial and spiritual activities.

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The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have responded with a policy statement clarifying that camping, even though not expressly stated in treaties, is considered an important intrinsic, reasonable activity under exercising treaty rights. Only a hundred and fifty years ago, the Shoshone and Bannock people were experts at knowing and utilizing their vast geographic homelands for natural resources upon which they relied for food, water, trade, and economy. Transportation was generally via foot or horses along common routes, many of which became modern transportation corridors across the region. As necessary, travel was done regularly and quickly, with temporary lodging made along the route. Organized travel was common and necessary; tribal camp leaders had the responsibility to designate camp sites for individual families.12 Camps were made in a variety of locations, usually near a water source, and Indians used the nearby vegetation (sagebrush, tulees, willows, lodgepole pines, and other types of brush and trees) or natural caves or cliffs for shelter, winter windbreaks, and enclosures for animals. Lava flows were commonly used as camping grounds, as well as for defensive purposes along travel corridors.13 Water sources in the lava fields lured water fowl and other wildlife, which the Indians relied on for subsistence.14 Plant foods provided necessary nutrients. The size of camps ranged from single families to large encampments, depending on the season and purpose, whether they were for trading or socializing. At the Fort Bridger Treaty negotiations held in Utah Territory in 1868, Bannock Chief Taghee set forth conditions: “I want the right to camp and dig roots on Camas Prairie when coming to Boise City to trade.”15 For the highly mobile Shoshone and Bannock people, camping was an intrinsic activity that was directly related to off-reservation treaty rights to hunt, fish, or gather resources. At the signing of the 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty, it was understood that the Indians would make a reservation their home but would retain off-reservation hunting rights. In essence, they gave up their homelands in exchange for reserved rights for treaty annuities and for hunting, fishing, and gathering off reservation, including the related right to camp. Yet for decades, tribal people furtively returned

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The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes responded to the 2005 legislation by issuing a statement of policy, declaring that enrolled tribal members who are eligible to exercise off-reservation treaty rights are exempt from utilizing the federal campground reservation system and from paying campground or other fees at developed campgrounds.17 The statement reads: The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes exercise inherent and reserved treaty rights within their own authorities and responsibilities. Federal land Developed Campground fees, reservation systems, and any other fee-based campground services shall not apply

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Tribes continue to press for recognition and the exercise of tribal inherent and treaty rights to camp, gather, fish, hunt, or perform religious and ceremonial activities on public lands. While public land managers often enumerate the long list of federal laws, executive orders, and agency guidelines in federal land management plans, the challenge of actually implementing the intent of tribal traditional use on public lands is often underrealized. Whereas land-use conflicts on public lands have traditionally centered on ranching, mining, recreation, and wildlife management, for American Indian tribes the conflict extends into political and constitutional issues of federal and state laws, and treaties. Centuries-long lifeways are at stake, as tribes are constantly forced to adjust to competing uses of their aboriginal lands. American Indian history is not in the past—it is directly applicable to present-day management of public lands. The challenge is to maintain tribal rights even as conversations continue to determine how best to use the public lands. The ongoing conflict of “living to use the land” versus the Native American philosophy of “living on and with the land” is still not fully resolved in public lands management.

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In 2005, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which established fees for recreational uses, including camping.16 Federal land managers, faced with increased recreational use, have imposed restrictions, permits, and fees for campground visitors, including tribal members. Depending on the federal land owner, highly desirable campsites are either reserved via a national reservation system, or they are used on a firstcome, first-served basis. This creates a competitive system that is incongruent with treaty rights. Although tribal members are appreciative of the new modern conveniences offered at developed campgrounds, above all they value access to traditional tribal camp sites.

Recognizing and Exercising Tribal Rights

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Contemporary tribal camping involves scouting a location for fishing and hunting, conducting individual ceremonial and spiritual activities, and gathering plants, wood, rocks, Indian paint (minerals), or any other traditional product. Either en route or near the selected campsite, wood is gathered for the fire. Once located by the family elder, a particular site might be used by a family for generations. Unfortunately, as more campers flock to popular areas on public lands, the result is that tribal members are sometimes no longer able to camp at their traditional sites.

to the enrolled members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, in accordance with Article IV of the Fort Bridger Treaty, on all unoccupied lands of the United States. The Treaty does not state, nor was it the intent of our leaders at the time of the signing of the treaty, to impose or restrict Tribal members from exercising off-Reservation rights to hunt, fish and gather, and the corresponding right to camp. Federal permitting requirements are contrary to the rights reserved by the Tribes in the Fort Bridger Treaty.

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to their traditional homelands to harvest needed subsistence foods, away from the eyes of non-Indians. In the 1950s, tribal members reported that they crossed fences and moved camp if they encountered ranchers or farmers.

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Regardless, tribes continue to fight on for their tribal rights to access public lands, to protect natural and cultural resources from degradation, to ensure the sustainability of native populations of wildlife and native plants, and to educate the general public about Native

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American traditional practices. Tribes are using federal laws and programs, including the National Historic Preservation Act, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, to their benefit. Another effective strategy is establishing intertribal coalitions to collaborate on common issues; the Upper Snake River Tribes, Coalition of Large Tribes, Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council are a few examples. Collaboration and communication with federal land managers have the promise to achieve common goals of maintaining the natural character of public lands to benefit future generations of tribal people and the general public. Notes 1

National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 54 U.S.C. §3001 (2016); Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA), 16 U.S.C. 470aa; Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA), 25 U.S.C. 3001. 2 National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321; Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. 1701; Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C 1531; Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as amended through Public L. No. 113–67, 30 U.S.C. 181; National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (NIFRMA), Public L. No. 101–630, 104 Stat. 4532 (November 28, 1990); Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA), Section 303 of Public L. No. 108–148 (December 3, 2003); Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004, Public L. No. 108–278 (July 22, 2004). 3 Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, November 6, 2000, Exec. Order No. 13175, 65 Fed. Reg. 218 (2000); Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, February 11, 1994, Exec. Order No. 12898, 59 C.F.R. Part 7629 (1994). 4 American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA), 42 U.S.C. 1996; Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb; Indian Sacred Sites, May 24, 1996, Exec. Order No. 13007, 61 C.F.R. Part 104 (1996).

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Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, Twin Falls District, American Falls Archeological District, undated brochure. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Northwest Region, Snake River Area Office, “American Falls Resource Management Plan, Finding of No Significant Impact and Final Environmental Assessment,” September 1994. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, “Notice of Intent To Prepare a Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment and Associated Environmental Assessment for the Castle Rocks and Cedar Fields Areas, Burley Field Office, ID,” 76 Fed. Reg. 163 (August 23, 2011). Interests represented on the RAC include energy, ranching, recreation, mining, state agencies, academic, environmental, and tribal Kimberlee Kruesi, “Feds Seek Alternatives to Restricting Rock Climbing Area,” Magic Valley News, January 26, 2012, https://magicvalley.com/news/local/feds-seek -alternatives-to-restricting-rock-climbing-area/article _36051395-c105-5b0a-80c3-e8cff52902f7.html. Kruesi. Kimberlee Kruesi, “Advisory Group Recommends Multiple-use for Cedar Fields,” Magic Valley News, September 21, 2012, https://magicvalley.com/news/local/advisory -group-recommends-multiple-use-for-cedar-fields /article_39aad7df-32cc-5574-9328-298f6ce7c4c6.html. Yvette Tuell, “Native Leadership, Diplomacy and Negotiation: The Power of Rhetorical Discourse and Persuasion” (unpublished paper, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 2014), 15. Benson Gibson, “Survivors of the Bannock War” (unpublished manuscript, 1991), 37. L. Suzann Henrikson, “Bison Freezers and HunterGatherer Mobility: Archaeological Analysis of Cold Lava Tube Caves on Idaho’s Snake River Plain,” Plains Anthropologist 48, no. 187 (2003): 263–85. Idaho Statesmen, August 29, 1867; D. W. Ballard to C.I.A., Boise City, August 31, 1867, roll 3, Letters Sent and Miscellaneous Records, 1863–70, Idaho Superintendency, National Archives; as cited in Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshone (Caldwell, ID: Caxton Press, 2007), 52. On the Fort Bridger Treaty, see 15 Stat. 673 (July 3, 1868). Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2005, 16 U.S.C. §6801.

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Amid a cacophony of gunfire, high-pitched whistle of a ricochet, and astringent smell of gun smoke lie thousand-year-old rock carvings on the west side of Utah Lake on Lake Mountain.1 These prehistoric carvings have withstood wind, rain, and wildfire but now face a new threat familiar across much of the West: recreational shooting. On much of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, including at Lake Mountain, target shooting is a largely unregulated activity, allowable nearly everywhere. In 2012, after noting significant damage to rock imagery along the west side of Utah Lake on Lake Mountain, the Salt Lake Field Office (SLFO) of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) enacted a temporary closure order for nearly 900 acres of public lands, with neighboring lands managed by the state of Utah through the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) also being closed. The closure order specifically targeted recreational shooting activities. This is only one example of how urban and suburban sprawl, recreational activities, and population growth are placing modern pressures on public lands and the remaining traces of humans who left their mark at earlier times there.

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Utah Lake Rock imagery: An Intersection of Public Lands, Recreational Shooting, and Cultural Resources

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The archaeology of Lake Mountain, including its rock imagery, represents eight thousand years of human life and experience along the rolling foothills of Utah Lake’s western shore. The area’s natural outcrops of sandstone attracted prehistoric people as an ideal location for rock imagery and fishing, hunting, and gathering camps. The rock imagery covers long stretches of sandstone that overlook expansive panoramas of Utah Lake and the Wasatch Range. Other than views of urban development on the other side of the lake, the experience of visiting Lake Mountain allows an immersive experience into a distant human past. Unfortunately, recent changes to this landscape diminish the feeling of the space and our ability to learn more about the past through archaeology. Although development has not reached this area of Utah Lake, recent vandalism

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Map of Lake Mountain and surrounding area. Map created by Deb Miller, Utah Division of State History.

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Prehistory and Rock imagery of the Lake Mountain Region Rock imagery persists on the landscape long after its creators, leaving many modern viewers with an impression of both a connection to earlier people and a sense of mystery as to its message. Descendants of the creators often have traditions that help decipher the code, but even without such insider knowledge and without knowing what a particular image or depictions “means,” rock imagery induces a universal feeling of awe and connection to the past. The term rock imagery applies to any human-made modification of a stone surface, which commonly consists of carved and/or painted designs on non-portable rocks. Canvas surfaces may include bedrock, rockshelter walls or ceilings, or detached boulders, and the designs themselves range from single small images to sprawling scenes woven from several individual patterns. Throughout time people created subtly different kinds of rock imagery by varying artistic style or subject matter, with the American West (particularly the Great Basin and Intermountain West) sharing many similarities in style over time and space. Archaeologists analyze the physical remains of rock imagery in order to place these designs into the context of ancient human lives and as

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Elements of the Great Basin Style are animal, human, and abstract geometric designs. Prey animals, such as bighorn sheep, feature frequently in Great Basin Style rock art, which may be related to hunting magic, as some researchers have noted that these images occur near prehistoric hunting ranges.2 The creators of Great Basin Style rock art infrequently depicted humans; no hypothesis has yet been put forth to explain this relative absence. The more abstract Great Basin Style rock imagery includes straight or nearly straight lines that may form into parallel lines or “rakes,” circles, or a curvilinear “meander.” These animal and abstract rock images share consistent design traits that suggest that members of the same culture—Utah’s Archaic peoples—created them. Archaeologists also assume that the repeated use of symbols across time and space means that contemporaneous viewers could “read” these images whose meaning eludes modern observers.

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The Great Basin Style is among the oldest and most geographically extensive rock imagery tradition on the continent. Archaeologists estimate that Native Americans created these designs as early as 8,000 years ago, slowly shifting their designs with the arrival of more agricultural traditions around 1,000 years ago. These Native American groups, termed Archaic peoples by archaeologists, traveled well-worn paths across their homelands in the American West in search of plants and animals. Little wonder, given Archaic peoples’ mobility, that Great Basin Style rock imagery predominates in Utah and Nevada and in parts of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Idaho.

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With the threat of losing rock imagery that has endured for millennia, land managers, target shooting groups, county commissioners, archaeologists, advocacy groups, and others came together to enact a temporary closure order that would protect priceless archeological resources. In 2018, the initial protective effort and constant pressure from concerned user groups bore the fruit of a final decision, the closing of 2,004 acres to target shooting, preventing further damage to the archaeological resources under threat. Although the damage from shooting is extensive and permanent, the Lake Mountain rock imagery still retains the potential to yield clues and evidence of earlier peoples while inspiring and educating a new generation of visitors to Utah’s public lands.

an indicator of temporal and cultural affiliation. As archaeologists cannot interview the creators of the images, they create categories to differentiate types of rock imagery. In the Lake Mountain area two types dominate, the Great Basin and Great Salt Lake Fremont styles.

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from bullets has irreparably damaged the record of the past.

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A shift from the mobile lifestyle of the Archaic period to more sedentary village life along the Wasatch Front in the first millennium AD is reflected in changes to the area’s rock imagery. These semi-sedentary village dwellers, the Fremont, lived across much of modern-day Utah and followed lifeways as varied as the Utah landscape. In the Lake Mountain area the Fremont

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people still regularly moved about in pursuit of wild game and seasonal plants but also clustered into small villages raising corn, beans, and squash.3 The ensuing phase of human artistic expression in Utah that resulted from the move to villages is known as the Great Salt Lake Fremont Style. Across the Fremont world, subject matter for artists turned toward the depiction of people, often what archaeologists perceive as real or perhaps mythological leaders. Based on the figures’ regalia including sashes, headdresses, and jewelry, archaeologists surmise that these depictions symbolize the power that stems from controlling economies and trade. Animals important for hunting form a strong motif throughout Fremont rock imagery, with abstract elements persisting in this new style, though in much less prominent ways than the Archaic Period. The Fremont Period, while much shorter than the millennia-long Archaic Period, produced prolific artists who pecked, scratched, and painted designs onto thousands of rock surfaces across Utah. At Lake Mountain both Fremont Style and Great Basin Style rock imagery can be found in abundance, likely owing to the continued cultural importance of the area. Lake Mountain and the area around Utah Lake continues to be of cultural importance. In

general, where modern people build our cities and towns tend to be where people in the past settled in villages and hamlets. This geographic overlapping of past and present creates conflict across the state, since the over 100,000 known sites in Utah—representing only ten percent of surveyed sites in the state—appear frequent and sometimes densely packed in places that are today highly populated. As at Lake Mountain, the vast majority of known sites occur on public lands close to populated areas. As Salt Lake and Utah Counties continue to grow, their populations spill out into nearby public lands for recreation and other uses, most unaware of the ancient symbols on the rocks around them.

Lake Mountain Archaeology and Vandalism Portions of the Lake Mountain area, south of Saratoga Springs, have been open to recreational shooting for decades, among the approximately twenty-three million areas of BLM land in Utah currently available for recreational shooting.4 This once-remote area of Utah County became attractive to shooters owing to its proximity to major urban centers. A

Before and after photographs of rock imagery damaged by recreational shooting, comparison from 2014 (L) to 2018 (R). Photos by Steve Acerson.

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As the populations of Utah and Salt Lake Valleys grew, more and more recreational shooters ventured to Lake Mountain to practice. An estimated 50,000 people come to this area annually, spiking reports of damage.7 In the spring and summer of 2018, the scene at Lake Mountain was grim—dozens of boulders that once contained rock imagery were shot beyond recognition and shooters were pushing further out into virgin territory looking for new places to shoot.

Legal Process for Protection In August 2012, the SLFO completed analysis for the Temporary Target Shooting Public Safety Closure on the Lake Mountains Environmental Assessment after identifying direct

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Using the 2012 temporary closure as a springboard, the BLM initiated a multiyear consultation effort to engage local, regional, and even national stakeholders in a permanent solution to the Lake Mountain target shooting issue. While the BLM does possess the authority to complete a temporary closure for resource protection—in this case the cultural resources identified as rock imagery—they instead chose to focus on the health and human safety aspects of the issue. At the kickoff of this public process, primary stakeholders included the Utah County Commission, SITLA, the Utah Rock Art Research Association (URARA), Utah State Historic Preservation Office, Congresswoman Mia Love, several local Native American tribes, and a variety of concerned citizens.

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At Lake Mountain, recreational shooters were unaware of the damage they were causing, since rock imagery around Utah Lake is uniquely hard to find; even the most experienced rock imagery aficionados and archaeologists have difficulty finding and revisiting favorite designs. The ironrich sandstone forms a patina over time, creating a dark—almost black—outer crust. This dark patina on the rocks mutes and disguises the ancient rock imagery. Although the BLM records the locations of rock imagery, they are legally prevented from sharing this information with the public because looters and intentional vandals find archaeological sites irresistible. BLM and SITLA’s solution to erect signs stating that rock imagery existed in the general area and urging caution did not deter shooters from inadvertently damaging rock imagery in the area. As happens to signage around shooting areas, the signs elicited more bullet holes than compliance.6

resource damage to rock imagery from uncontrolled shooting activity.8 This temporary closure did not ban hunting or carrying firearms, but it specifically applied to those individuals using this stretch of public lands for recreational target shooting.9 In its initial 2012 analysis, the BLM identified serious public safety issues, including numerous target shooting—caused wildfires, significant amounts of garbage like televisions and mattresses used as targets, and shooting-related waste such as shell casings.10 This initial temporary closure approved in 2012, was extended in 2014 for two years to allow negotiation of a final decision on a much larger shooting closure area.

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dirt road parallels the Lake Mountain foothills and provides convenient entry to the BLM- and SITLA-administered lands. Along this road, shooters have established about twenty ad hoc shooting lanes facing west toward the mountainside, away from Highway 68. The dark, oxidized surface of sandstone provides a satisfying pop of bright tan color when struck, allowing shooters to assess how close they came to their target. Although the BLM advises that ammunition hitting rocks can ricochet and be deadly, many recreational shooters intentionally target sandstone outcrops—the same sandstone that ancient people valued for rock imagery.5

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In comparison to the lengthy and deeply bureaucratic federal process, SITLA has the authority to unilaterally close their lands, as it is not “public” or under a multiple-use mandate like BLM lands. Using this authority SITLA withdrew 1,460 acres in Lake Mountain from all public access in 2014, decommissioned and reclaimed 9.45 miles of roads illegally entering its land in 2015, and removed twelve tons of trash from the area using volunteers and prisoners. Sometimes negatively viewed by outside parties, the streamlined decision–making rubric of SITLA, with no public process, allowed for a quick and effective solution to the shooting problems on at least state lands. In 2016, Utah state senator Margaret Dayton proposed a bill to allow a process for the withdrawal of SITLA lands from public target shooting statewide, codified as Section 53C-2-105. After passage,

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SITLA closed 1,533 acres of Trust Lands to public shooting and rescinded the earlier withdrawal of public access. This allowed the public to enter SITLA lands, as long as they were not involved in target shooting activities.11

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In December of 2016, four years after the temporary closure, the BLM issued a draft Plan Amendment, identifying 2,004 acres for potential permanent closure to target shooting activity. After the required thirty-day protest period, in which none were received, the decision was shipped off to Washington, D.C. for final review and approvals.12 Meanwhile, under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act (43CFR2740), the BLM deeded 160 acres to Utah County for the construction of a new and formalized target shooting range just to the south of the proposed closure areas.13 Unfortunately, a year later in December of 2017, the finalized draft Plan Amendment remained unsigned in Washington, D.C. due to vacant positions at the BLM’s Washington office from the transitioning of the new presidential administration. This left the protection of the rock imagery along Utah Lake in a type of limbo that prevented the BLM from enforcing the closure. URARA, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of rock imagery throughout Utah, raised concerns about increased target shooting and that the temporary closure inadvertently pushed shooting into other, perhaps even more sensitive, areas rich with rock imagery.14 URARA, specifically its president Steve Acerson and wife Diana, spearheaded a public information campaign regarding the continued damage to rock imagery at Lake Mountain, and the Acersons even camped at the most sensitive of the rock imagery locations to inform target shooters of their inadvertent damage.15 URARA partnered with the BLM, SITLA, and a National Rifle Association–affiliated group, #ChangeYourRange, to organize volunteers to clean up target shooting waste while providing those same individuals with a personalized and guided tour to the sensitive petroglyphs.16 By the end of the #ChangeYourRange event, 260 volunteers had lent their support to cleaning and protecting public lands by removing nine and a half tons of trash.17 Finally, on September 6, 2018, six years after the initial temporary shooting closure, and

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probably in no small part resulting from the continued pressure of URARA, Congresswoman Mia Love’s office, and other interested parties, the final closure decision of 2,004 acres appeared in the Federal Register.18 This now gives the BLM authority to implement the closure, erect signage, police target shooting, and plan for the long-term preservation and interpretation of these irreplaceable pieces of Utah’s past. But the door is always open for a future BLM action to reopen the area for shooting, or other activity.

A Tale of Two Lake Mountains While land managers, the public, and other parties wrestled with closures, trash piles, and shooting on lands at the base of Lake Mountain, directly across the highway along the shoreline the Adelbert Doyle Smith Family Preserve remained relatively pristine. Acquired by the Archaeological Conservancy to protect sensitive rock art, the 196-acre Smith Preserve contains over 250 boulders with Great Basin and Great Salt Lake Fremont Style rock imagery, as well as other archaeological evidence of past peoples camping, fishing, and hunting in the area. These two rock art hot spots, Lake Mountain and the Smith Preserve, lie less than a mile apart as the crow flies, and as a result have similar rock imagery. Both feature rock imagery pecked into sandstone outcrops with similar—although not quite the same—motifs and designs that indicate repeated visitation over thousands of years. The rocks themselves, though the same type of sandstone, are slightly different: the outcrops at the Smith Preserve stand tall and broadcast their rock art like a mural. Lake Mountain’s sandstone is more deeply embedded in the ground, and many boulders with rock art look like raised decorative tiles. Visitors to both sides of Highway 68 delight in comparing and contrasting the rock art found in each area, but despair at the stark contrast in preservation.19 Because the Smith Preserve is privately held by a not-for-profit organization and was previously private land, trespassing has been prohibited and visitation kept to a minimum for generations. Touring the eastern and western sides of the highway and moving between private and public land is a dramatic experience—the damage present on Lake Mountain stops abruptly

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Looking to the Future to Interpret Lake Mountain’s Past If Lake Mountain’s rock art is a book about North America’s deep human past, it now has a new chapter on resource conflict and resolution. Across the West, but particularly in Utah, discussions about balancing conflicting resources on public lands capture the public attention. Lake Mountain provides one tale of how a coalition of partners came together and encouraged a federal land managing agency to act on behalf of a fragile, nonrenewable resource. A long-lasting protective decision has been reached, but what happens next and how can that lesson be applied across the West? Also, how can the story of the Smith Family Archaeological Preserve help to convey the comparative message of public versus private lands, and the impacts of that status upon cultural resources? Currently the human-caused deterioration of the Lake Mountain rock art has come to a halt. Most of the recreational shooting community

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respected the closure order, and public outreach efforts from URARA, #ChangeYourRange, SITLA, and the Utah SHPO resulted in excellent news coverage and a widespread appreciation for these fragile resources. As Steve and Diana Acerson of URARA patrolled the area in spring and summer 2018, they found recreational shooters who didn’t merely stop shooting but wanted to learn about rock art and how they could join URARA to protect this heritage. Respectful and meaningful engagement by concerned citizens leads to visitor education, and this by itself will provide compelling reasons for protection.

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at the highway, and the Smith Preserve holds some of the best, most intact examples of rock art in the region. Visitation to the preserve is currently limited to guided tours, which provides a high-quality experience for visitors and continues the tradition of providing the highest possible protections for the rock art.20

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Rock imagery at the Smith Preserve is relatively undamaged by human activities. Utah Division of State History.

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Most importantly, though damage is done, education and even recreation are still possible in the Lake Mountain area. Over the next few years the BLM, SITLA, and other partners will seek ways to make this area a viable recreational and educational destination that balances potentially competing resource issues. Public interpretation, hiking and biking trails, and a host of other potential infrastructure improvements will continue to build on the success stories of past efforts while thinking towards a more appropriate future use of these sensitive lands.21 The juxtaposition between rock art on the east and west sides of the highway is something that federal land managers should embrace. The contrast between the Smith Preserve and the BLM and SITLA lands of Lake Mountain offers a before-and-after look at one beloved cultural

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resource and provides a unique immersive experience for visitors to learn about the past. At Lake Mountain though, the lesson goes one step further about the complex relationship between mixed-use public lands and the policies that control their usage. While unfortunate, the Lake Mountain example can be an educational template for other endangered archaeological sites across the state. The Lake Mountain solution was reached through a largely bipartisan consensus, without heightened animosity on either side, and occurred relatively quickly (by Washington D.C. standards, that is). By creating interpretive materials available online and on-site at Lake Mountain, the BLM can highlight that resolution is possible for controversial and threatened archaeological sites and can give the Lake Mountain rock imagery a second life. Where once these carved designs held meaning to prehistoric people, now modern people can find new meaning in their damage and ultimate protection.

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At the end of this singular saga it is hard not to reflect on the question of what the future holds for all of the other cultural resources on public lands facing increased pressures and threats from population growth, suburban sprawl, development activities, and climate change. Processes exist within existing state, federal, and local laws to identify, interpret, protect, and conserve these parts of history, and only through a continued and engaged conversation with all stakeholders can we hope to find a tenuous balance in this tension-filled world of public land politics and policy.

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Rock Imagery is a term that includes petroglyphs, images pecked or carved into stone or rock, and pictographs, images painted onto a rock surface using mixtures of minerals and binding agents. 2 Robert F. Heizer and Martin A. Baumhoff, Prehistoric Rock Art of Nevada and Eastern California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962). 3 Simms, Steven R., Ancient People of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau (New York: Routledge, 2008). 4 “Recreational Shooting on BLM Utah Lands,” Bureau of Land Management, accessed October 23, 2019, https:// www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/utah/recreational _shooting. 5 BLM, “Recreational Shooting.” 6 Brian Maffly, “Sure as Shooting, Target Practice is Spoiling Utah’s Public Lands,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 24, 2015. 7 Brian Maffly, “Feds Ban Shooting on 2,000 Acres West of Utah Lake,” Salt Lake Tribune, updated September 7, 2018.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, BLM, “Notice of Closure: Target Shooting Public Safety Closure on the Lake Mountains in Utah County, UT,” Federal Register, 77 Fed. Reg. 75186. The BLM has authority to temporarily close public lands to protect people, property, and public lands and resources under the authority of 36CFR438364.1, with policy directives under the Washington Office (WO) Instruction Memorandum (IM) 201-128 “Requirements for Processing and Approving Temporary Public Land Closure and Restriction Orders”; WOIM-2015-157 “Advanced Congressional Notification for Proposed Closures Related to Recreational Shooting, Hunting, or Fishing”; and WO-IM-2015-131 “Implementation of the Federal Lands Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Sports Memorandum of Understanding.” U.S. Department of the Interior, BLM, “Lake Mountains Temporary Shooting Closure, 2016,” BLM Decision Record, DOI-BLM-UT-W010-2016-0025-DNA Collation of data provided by Joel Boomgarden, archaeologist with SITLA. Eastern Lake Mountains Target Shooting Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment, Decision Record, DOI-BLM-UT-W010-2015-0023-EA. Brian Maffly, “BLM Transfers Public Lands to Utah County; Parcel to be Used as a Shooting Range,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 7, 2016. See Diana Acerson to Ed Roberson, January 18, 2018, “RE: Amendment to RMP to Close Target Shooting at Lake Mountain, Utah County, Utah,” on file at the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, Section 106 Case Files, 14-1586. Katie England, “Protecting Petroglyphs as Utah County Develops,” Springville Daily Herald, February 19, 2018; Braley Dodson, “Rock Art Activists Are Sitting on Shooting Sites to Protect Petroglyphs,” Springville Daily Herald, April 1, 2018. The BLM allowed disclosure of archaeological site locations in this situation pursuant to their authority under Section 9 of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, which states that such disclosure is allowed if it “further the purposes of the act” and does “not create a risk of harm to such resources.” Personal communication via email, Andy McDaniels, Director of #changeyourrange, October 3, 2018. Prohibition of Target Shooting on Public Lands in Eastern Lake Mountains, Utah County, Utah, Interim final supplementary rule, 43CFR8365, 83 Fed. Reg. 45196, September 6, 2018. The Archaeological Conservancy, “Smith Family Preserve, Utah,” February 15, 2014, online at archaeologicalconservancy.org. The Archaeological Conservancy is the United States’ primary non-profit organization that purchases threatened or endangered archaeological sites for protection, preservation, and educational purposes. Jennifer Morrison, “Smith Family Archaeological Preserve,” Crossroads Journal, April 6, 2018, available online at thecrossroadsjournal.com. Already, the Utah Division of State History has partnered with Granite School District and the Utah History Day program to take educators to both the Smith Preserve and the adjacent BLM and SITLA lands to use this landscape to discuss Native peoples, archaeology, rock imagery, land management principles, and social ethics. Future improvements at both locations will make these sites increasingly accessible for these types of educational uses.

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In 2006, Congress established two new national heritage areas (NHA) with lands mainly in Utah. In the southern and central part of the state, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) stretched for roughly 250 miles along Highway 89 and included land in six counties: Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, and Kane. Further west, the Great Basin National Heritage Area (GBNHA) encompassed all of Utah’s Millard County, as well as neighboring White Pine County and the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation, both in Nevada.1 In each case, the campaign for NHA designation took close to ten years, with local advocates traveling to Washington, D.C. several times to testify before House and Senate committees.

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This article explores the shifting politics of NHA designation in the American West, with an emphasis on Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. The National Park Service (NPS) is charged with overseeing the NHA program, which it defines as including “places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.”2 The NHA model emphasizes partnerships and collaboration as tools to promote community-driven conservation, preservation, and economic development projects. Originally concentrated in deindustrialized areas of the Upper Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, the approach has slowly gained traction in western states during the past two decades. Though wariness toward the idea persists, there has been a move towards acceptance among many early critics. Monte Bona, longtime executive director of the MPNHA, has described this ongoing transition as “skepticism turning to spectacular support.”3 Key to this transformation is the designation process itself. Though in part funded by congressional appropriations, the drive for creating NHAs does not emanate from within the NPS or other federal land management agencies. Instead, the primary impetus comes from local actors and interests who ideally build consensus around a plan prior to legislative action. This approach serves an important legitimating function,

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For both political and pragmatic reasons, NHA proposals lacking support from a diversity of stakeholders rarely gain authorization. Ongoing discord would sabotage the program’s fundamental goal of partnership development. It would also raise concerns for congressional sponsors and other elected officials whose support is necessary for authorization and longterm viability.4

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shielding successful NHA campaigns from at least some of the rancor often connected to debates over other forms of protected area management, including those that include significant public land acreage.

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NHAs are one of many federal land designations in the West. Yet they differ substantially from most initiatives in that they include both public and private property. Their boundaries, though defined in legislation, are rarely marked with signs or entry stations. People, rather than a physical landscape, are at the center of the NHA process. “You cannot have a heritage area with just land and no people,” Brenda Barrett, the former national coordinator for heritage areas, commented. “People’s stories, memories, and cultures are vital to NHA development in the short and long term.”5 The significance of public lands within an NHA emerges because of human influence and interaction over time—not despite it. Studying the history of the NHA program reveals much about the direction of conservation practice, including public lands management, in the late twentieth-century United States. Beginning in the 1960s with the establishment of national seashores and lakeshores, the NPS began to experiment, albeit haltingly, with allowing residents and other property owners to continue living and working within park boundaries.6 The agency also ceded some decision-making authority to its partners, whether in the form of advisory boards, cooperative agreements, or memoranda of understanding. These actions allowed the NPS to establish a broader presence in urban and suburban areas as well as in landscapes with varied landownership patterns. NHAs represent one of the more dynamic (and popular) outcomes of this broader shift towards the collaborative administration of protected areas, including federal public lands.

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The National Heritage Area Model Congress designated the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor as the first NHA in 1984. Since that time, the program has grown to include fifty-five locations in more than thirty states. Each NHA has unique authorizing legislation, though several similar elements appear in most bills. One commonality is the role of the NPS. It is the principal federal partner and provides ongoing financial and technical assistance to all active areas, with the agency’s regional offices usually serving as the primary point of contact. Additionally, many NHAs share thematic connections with NPS units and work together closely on joint programming. NHA designation has no impact on private property rights, the use of public lands, or zoning. Instead, the immediate effects are increased visibility and access to financial resources. The prestige of congressional recognition, along with linkage to the NPS, stimulates interest in a region’s cultural and natural resources—a valuable outcome given that heritage tourism is a primary aim of most NHAs. Eligibility for federal NHA funding is also an outcome of designation. Since the mid-2000s, federal allocations have averaged roughly $150,000 per year for newly established areas and $300,000 to $600,000 per year for areas that have a management plan approved by the Interior secretary. But congressional funding in any given budget cycle is not guaranteed. Additionally, NHAs must match all federal funds with nonfederal support (cash or in-kind). NHAs vary tremendously in their geographic scale, thematic scope, and management structure. Some are limited to a few downtown neighborhoods, while others encompass tens of thousands of square miles across multiple jurisdictions. Interpretive emphases are equally varied. Several NHAs focus on a specific topic or period in time—for example, the American Revolution or the life of Abraham Lincoln. Others address thousands of years, covering the full breadth of a landscape’s natural and cultural history. Nonprofit organizations, universities, federal commissions, state agencies, and local

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Map of National Heritage Areas nationwide, 2019. NHAs in the western states have come about only in recent years, with two of the largest—Mormon Pioneer NHA and Great Basin NHA—designated in 2006. Courtesy National Park Service.

governments all manage NHAs, with staff size ranging from one to more than a dozen. What links these efforts is a common approach to community development rooted in a sense of place and shared governance. NHA coordinating entities act as a platform for partnerships and local capacity building. They assemble stakeholders, guide planning processes, and seed projects with funding and technical expertise. With a few exceptions, NHAs do not own or manage property beyond a visitor center or office. Their role is catalyst and convener, forming new connections and cementing existing relationships. The result is a powerful “collaborative framework,” grounded in shared appreciation for a region’s histories, cultures, and natural landscapes.7

National Heritage Areas Move West By the end of 2000, the number of NHAs reached almost two dozen. Only one, however,

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was located west of the hundredth meridian. In contrast to most of the areas established further east, NHAs proposed in western states regularly encountered resistance from residents, elected officials, and business interests, as well as politically conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation.8 This hostility stemmed, in large part, from fears regarding the possible land use implications of designation. These tensions surfaced in a dispute concerning the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in Arizona.9 Originally authorized by Congress in 2000 to include roughly twenty-two square miles of historic downtown Yuma and surrounding areas along the Colorado River, the NHA encountered the ire of farmers, ranchers, and other property owners shortly after completing its management planning process in 2003.10 A mistaken decision by a city official to deny a permit for a billboard on private land within the NHA boundaries set off a torrent of protest led by the Yuma County Farm Bureau. A series of public meetings drew large crowds,

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including one session where almost six hundred people packed into a local farm supply company, with many residents learning about the NHA and its activities for the first time.11 During its multiyear management planning process, the NHA had directed its energies on a roughly five-square-mile area near downtown and along the Colorado River. Language in its 2000 authorizing legislation, however, still reflected the original, larger boundaries. To clarify this important issue for the public, the NHA and the Yuma County Farm Bureau signed a joint statement. It announced that the NHA would ask Congress to change the boundaries to align with those in the management plan. It also stated that the farm bureau would support the management plan.12 In addition to the congressional request, the NHA coordinating entity also acted on a local level. It recommended that the city of Yuma and Yuma County pass resolutions clearly stating that no municipal regulation could rely on heritage area boundaries as a pretext for regulation. The NHA also added a representative of the agricultural community to its board, with one farmer eventually becoming the chair.13 These quick and decisive steps helped build trust by demonstrating the NHA’s commitment to listening to the needs and perspectives of residents. In the following decade, the Yuma Crossing NHA had a major impact on the city of Yuma. It spearheaded the creation of a new riverfront park, expanded historical interpretation throughout the downtown landmark district, and played an important role in restoring the Yuma East Wetlands along the Colorado River. Each project relied heavily on partnerships, with involvement of residents, business interests, local and state government, and the Quechan Indian Tribe.14 Yet despite these achievements, the Yuma experience became (and remains) a popular talking point for NHA skeptics.15 It also offered an important lesson for communities seeking designation. Outreach, including to potential opponents, is critical to short- and long-term success, especially in the West where many property owners have a visceral reaction to federal initiatives. Moving quickly towards designation, while

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attractive in some respects, can generate serious challenges later as more residents learn about the NHA and its activities. Reflecting on these events, former Yuma Crossing NHA executive director Charles Flynn commented: “What I learned from the experience is that many Westerners have had bad experiences with the federal government generally, given the large amount of land the Feds control. We must respect the fears and genuine emotions involved. By respecting those emotions and addressing the concerns without affecting the Heritage Area plans, we ultimately drew even stronger support from the farming community.”16

Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area Interest in creating an NHA in Utah dates to the mid-1990s.17 One early effort targeted the San Rafael Swell, a large area in the east-central part of the state managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This proposal, which would have encompassed land in Emery, Carbon, and Sanpete Counties, did garner some enthusiasm, but ultimately faltered prior to designation.18 Only a few years later, another NHA began to take shape further south. Centered on the Highway 89 corridor between the town of Fairview and the Arizona border and Highways 12 and 24, the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area (later changed to Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area) proposed to tell the story of nineteenth-century emigration and settlement by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, the Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance (Alliance), took the lead in advocating for the NHA designation. Its membership included “area artisans, crafters, shopkeepers, innkeepers, restaurants and outfitters,” according to a newspaper report. Originally formed in 1996 as an offshoot of the Sanpete Heritage Council, a multicounty tourism agency, the Alliance prioritized outreach and engagement. It held dozens of public meetings along the length of the corridor, inviting residents, local elected officials, business owners, and tribal governments to learn more about the effort.19 The land within the NHA’s proposed boundaries included a mix of public and private

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Landscape scene of Manti, Utah, within the Mormon Pioneer NHA. Courtesy Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.

ownership. In addition to three national parks, three national monuments, eight state parks, and three national forests, the area under consideration also included a large amount of farmland and numerous towns and small cities. Not surprisingly, the idea of applying a new federal designation to such a large landscape generated uneasiness. Concerns included effects on zoning, changes in the management of federal lands, and the potential for gentrification and displacement linked to the tourism industry.20 Given these anxieties, the Alliance and other NHA supporters pursued a “microlevel� engagement strategy.21 Numerous scoping meetings took place up and down the corridor during the early 2000s to explain how NHAs worked. At these events, open to the public,

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anyone interested, worried, or even hostile to the idea could share views. An important talking point at the gatherings was economic development. The NHA model has always emphasized the linkage between heritage tourism, historic preservation, investment, and job creation.22 The private sector is an essential partner for NHAs, with representatives from local businesses serving on boards of directors alongside nonprofit leaders, academics, and public officials. In the case of the MPNHA, the emphasis was at the community level with the goal of revitalizing towns along the proposed route.23 This approach was largely successful in both allaying fears and galvanizing support, including among municipal officials and county commissions.

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Another important part of the Alliance’s strategy was building partnerships with state lawmakers and agencies. Prior to seeking federal designation, the Alliance sought recognition from the legislature, becoming one of four state heritage areas. In addition, it advocated for the creation of a Mormon Pioneer Heritage Center at Utah State University. These actions raised the NHA’s profile in Utah and demonstrated to Congress and the NPS that the effort had a broad spectrum of backers.

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Despite these endorsements, the push to gain federal status as an NHA still took time. First considered for designation in 2002, the NHA only received congressional authorization in late 2006, when a bill creating ten new NHAs gathered enough momentum for passage. Though frustrating to advocates, the waiting period likely had an unintended positive impact. It allowed those skeptical of the idea to gain added familiarity with the NHA concept and solidified support among longtime backers of the initiative.

Great Basin National Heritage Area The drive to establish an NHA in the Great Basin region of Nevada and Utah also began in the late 1990s. Denys M. Koyle, a longtime resident of White Pine County, played a crucial role in the NHA’s creation. She recalled that in late 1998, the superintendent of Great Basin National Park attended a meeting about the NHA program in Washington, D.C. Shortly after returning to Nevada, the superintendent discussed the idea with Koyle and other local business owners, who reacted with enthusiasm to the concept.24 The next step was a public meeting in the small town of Baker. Over fifty people took part, with many traveling from neighboring communities to learn more. The response from attendees was largely positive, even among those unhappy with the existing NPS presence in the region.25 In this formative period, NHA supporters crucially stressed that their effort was a new and separate initiative from the national park. It would receive federal funds and work with federal agencies, including the NPS, but its management would be entirely independent. In addition, the

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NHA would not own any land or play a role in regulating public lands.26 These arguments succeeded in stemming apprehension, though the initial GBNHA proposal was scaled down when elected officials in an adjoining county (ultimately not included) expressed unease over the perceived property rights implications. One reason that support for the NHA coalesced so quickly was northeastern Nevada’s worsening economic situation. The mining industry had been in decline since at least the 1980s, with copper facing an especially steep drop in prices. In fact, only a few months after the initial NHA meeting, a major employer, Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. (BHP), announced that it would be shutting down production at the Robinson Mine in Ruth, Nevada. The closure eliminated over four hundred jobs and had a significant effect across White Pine County. Property values decreased, as did tax revenue. Additionally, many workers decided to leave the area, moving elsewhere to look for more stable employment opportunities.27 Many residents had hoped that the creation of Great Basin National Park in 1986 would stimulate investment and job growth. Tourism did increase, but not enough to offset the losses in mining and other industries. Visitors often stayed within the park and did not spend money in neighboring communities, limiting the park’s potential economic ripple effects. The NHA model differed in that it had the potential to promote a much larger landscape. During the push for designation, Tonia Harvey, who operated a gift shop and café within the park, explained the need for the NHA to a local newspaper. “People come to Baker to see the park, but it never occurs to them there is more to see than just the park,” she said. “With the heritage area we feel we can get them to stay longer and tour the entire area.”28 Another local business owner, Lorraine Clark of Ely, Nevada, commented, “This is critical for our whole survival out here. . . . Promoting all that heritage, that’s what we hope to use as an economic stimulus.”29 In 2002, members of the Nevada and Utah congressional delegations introduced legislation to create the GBNHA, but, like the MPNHA, it would take many years of advocacy for the bill

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Since its designation in 2006, the GBNHA has emphasized these same core principles. One notable success has been a grant program that supports local partners. As Brandi Roberts, executive director of the GBNHA, explains: “What we do is provide the resources, both financial and technical assistance, for the local communities to tell their stories in the way they want to, using the methods they want to, choosing their audiences. We don’t direct people what to do.”32 Private individuals, nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, businesses, and local governments have all applied and received support. A sample of funded projects includes new roofs on historic structures, Powwow operations, oral history interviews, interpretive programming and exhibits, and restroom facilities at a hot spring on the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation.

Future Challenges, Opportunities The number of NHAs in the West continues to grow. In early 2019, Congress passed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and

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While property rights continue to be the dominant issue driving opposition to NHAs, other significant questions also exist. For example, an effort to establish an NHA on the island of Oahu lost momentum after Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) and others expressed reservations regarding its interpretive foci and tourism emphasis, as well as a lack of public engagement. In addition, worries regarding the effects of NHA status on Kanaka Maoli sovereignty emerged as a prominent issue.34 These concerns, though specific to Hawai’i, nonetheless reflect a broader need for NHAs to remain aware of the history and ongoing reality of colonialism and racial exclusion in the West.35 Heritage is never a singular category and, especially in its more promotional forms, can become a tool of erasure, inscribing the silences of the past into the contemporary memorial landscape.

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Antagonism towards NHAs remains, however. Though specifically barred from carrying out zoning or similar measures, NHAs are inevitably caught up in debates over the role of the state in implementing conservation initiatives. Longstanding distrust of federal action in many western states, especially as it relates to the public lands and adjoining private property, is often coupled with the rhetoric of national property rights organizations. The result is anxiety over the possible implications of a new and little-known federal designation. A recent attempt to establish a new NHA on the border of Texas and Louisiana, for example, faltered in the face of significant opposition from residents fearful of potential environmental regulations.33

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Recreation Act into law. It established six new NHAs—the first time in almost a decade that Congress added landscapes to the NHA system. Four of the six new NHAs were in western states, including two in Washington, one in California, and one in Arizona.

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to become law. During this period, public engagement continued. Backers of the effort emphasized several key points. First, and likely most important, was the voluntary opt in nature of NHA activities. The GBNHA, like all other NHAs, would have no effect on zoning or land use. Involvement in its projects would be by choice. Second, NHA advocates did not criticize the region’s longstanding industries, like mining, during their campaign. Instead, they promoted heritage tourism as an additional source of jobs and revenue. “Mining has always been a part of our heritage,” a leader of the NHA effort explained. “The problem is if you let yourself depend on mining solely, you’ll ask for it. Mines come and go.”30 Finally, the celebratory aspect of NHA designation also received attention. Creating an NHA was a means to signal pride of place to one’s neighbors and to the country as a whole. At a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, for example, Denys Koyle testified, “I want not only my children and grandchildren to be proud of this heritage, but also for the entire nation to know of this heritage and understand it and incorporate it with pride as part of their heritage.”31

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Conclusion The NHA model is a unique approach to protected area management. It links economic and community development to preservation, conservation, and recreation projects. Though supported with federal funds and technical expertise, it is almost entirely locally driven.

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The boundaries of areas, the proposed interpretive themes, and the management structure all emerge from on-the-ground organizing. Experienced NPS staff at the park, region, and national levels offer important guidance and support in areas like recreation planning, historic preservation, and interpretation.

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The blending of knowledge and expertise is written into NHA authorizing statutes. This type of legislative language, which mandates collaboration and consultation with varied partners, has also become more common in the establishment of new national park units. Its presence is important, in that it provides legal footing to balance the power asymmetries that can often undermine cooperation between the federal government and grassroots constituencies. Creating more NHAs will not resolve the tensions that surround public lands in the West. Still, when designated in a slow and thoughtful manner, NHAs can and do build trust among skeptical actors. These relationships, in turn, create new and exciting spaces for joint planning and programming, with results like the Yuma East Wetlands Project or the Great Basin Grants Program.36 In successful NHAs, federal agencies, including but not limited to the NPS, are drawn into and engage in planning processes led by local communities—a noteworthy change from the oftentimes rote public engagement that can accompany legally mandated environmental consultation. The strong ties developed during the designation period offer a stable foundation for future cooperation—even on controversial or divisive topics. There is no “off-the-shelf” formula for NHA success, however. It takes time, determination, and humility to build and sustain place-based partnerships, but the ultimate results can be transformative for the affected partners and landscapes. Notes 1

The term National Heritage Area refers to all regions designated by Congress as part of the National Heritage Areas Program. Some sites employ a variation on the nomenclature, including National Heritage Route, National Heritage Corridor, or Cultural Heritage Corridor. The authorizing legislation for the GBNHA identified it as a National Heritage Route, but the nonprofit co-

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ordinating entity, along with partners, prefer and have always used the term National Heritage Area instead. For a full list of every location in the program, see “Visit NHAs Online,” National Heritage Areas, accessed November 5, 2019, https://www.nps.gov/subjects /heritageareas/visit_nhas_online.htm. 2 “What is a National Heritage Area?” National Heritage Areas, accessed January 10, 2019, https://www.nps.gov /articles/what-is-a-national-heritage-area.htm. 3 Monte Bona, phone interview by author, August 27, 2019. 4 For example, in explaining why they withdrew support for a recent NHA proposal that spanned the Texas and Louisiana border, members of the Louisiana congressional delegation explained: “This proposal was an effort to create more jobs and economic opportunity for the Caddo Lake community while protecting the private property rights of residents. However, we said from the beginning that if the people of Northwest Louisiana did not support this effort, neither would we. Since some residents are still opposed, we are respecting their wishes by making sure the proposal will no longer be considered in Congress. We will continue to listen to and serve the people of Northwest Louisiana, vigorously defend private property rights, and do everything we can to ensure our local communities prosper.” U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, “Johnson, Cassidy announce Caddo Lake National Heritage Area Proposal Will Not Move Forward,” News Release, July 24, 2018, Congressional Documents and Publications, Nexus Uni. 5 Brenda Barrett, phone interview by author, December 27, 2019. 6 These changes played out differently at each National Seashore and Lakeshore. For specific examples, see James Feldman, A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011); U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, A Nationalized Lakeshore: The Creation and Administration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Theodore Karamanski (Omaha: Midwest Regional Office, 2000); Jacqueline A. Mirandola Mullen, “Coastal Parks for a Metropolitan Nation: How Postwar Politics and Urban Growth Shaped America’s Shores” (PhD diss., University at Albany, State University of New York, 2015); and Laura Alice Watt, The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017). 7 The term “collaborative framework” in regard to the NHA model is drawn from Daniel N. Laven et al., “From Partnerships to Networks: New Approaches for Measuring US National Heritage Area Effectiveness,” Evaluation Review 34, no. 4 (June 2010): 271–98. 8 Though early NHAs in the East and Midwest encountered limited to no opposition from private property rights organizations, this began to change during the 2000s, especially in the Southeast. One proposal (ultimately designated in 2009) that provoked significant debate was the Journey through Hallowed Ground NHA. It stretches from Monticello to Gettysburg and includes land in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Examples of the type of criticism directed at NHAs include John J. Miller, “An Ugly Heritage: The Poor Man’s National Park,” National Review, Janu-

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phone interview by author, August 27, 2019. The Mormon Pioneer NHA has no official affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A series of letters to the editor in the Richfield Reaper (Sevier County, UT) between 2002 and 2005 documented these concerns. For example, one writer, commented, “Is the hope that rich people from outside the area will spend money here, enough for us to give up some of our freedoms?” Ryan Syme, letter to the editor, Richfield Reaper, May 7, 2003, newspapers. com. Other residents, however, defended the NHA idea. One letter writer argued, “With the economy in a slump and many small business owners closing their doors, and the drought forcing changes in agriculture, tourism and the new dollars it brings into the area would be a welcome relief.” Paul Turner, letter to the editor, Richfield Reaper, April 30, 2003, newspapers .com. Bona, phone interview by author, August 27, 2019. This emphasis has been a point of criticism for those worried that increased visitation within NHAs might negatively affect longtime residents, the environment, and historic resources. Concerns about heritage tourism and historic preservation go well beyond heritage areas, however, and have inspired rich popular and scholarly debates. Several essays in Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States, a recently published collection, address these issues. Page Max and Marla R. Miller, eds., Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016). Bona, phone interview by author, August 27, 2019. Denys Koyle, phone interview by author, September 24, 2019. Koyle, interview. The story of the creation and management of Great Basin National Park is complex. For background on the park and its creation, see Darwin Lambert, Great Basin Drama: The Story of a National Park (Niwot, CO: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1991); Terrill J. Kramer, “Great Basin National Park: Rationales, Concepts, and Conflicts,” Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers 53, no. 1 (1991): 19–34; Harlan D. Unrau, Basin and Range: A History of Great Basin National Park (Washington, DC: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1990), 367–420; Leisl Carr-Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015), 120–52. Local and regional newspapers covered the effects of the shutdown extensively. For example, see Don Cox, Ken Alltucker, and Jennifer Crowe, “Closures Cut a Path across the State,” Reno Gazette-Journal, September 26, 1999, newspapers.com; Don Cox, “Ruth, Ely, McGill have Industry Ties,” Reno Gazette-Journal, September 27, 1999, newspapers.com; Adella Harding, “Robinson Seeks Federal Aid for Laid Off Workers,” Elko Daily Free Press, July 10, 1999, newspapers. com. For more on the development of mining in this region, see Hal Rothman, Nevada: The Making of Modern Nevada (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2010), 63–81; and James W. Hulse, A Great Basin Mosaic: The Cultures of Rural Nevada (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2017), 87–102.

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ary 28, 2008, 24–28; and Cheryl Chumley and Ronald D. Utt, National Heritage Areas: Costly Economic Development Schemes that Threaten Property Rights (Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation, 2007). For more information on the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, see Heather M. Scotten, “National Heritage Areas: Planning for and Managing Living Landscapes; A Case Study of Yuma Crossing, Arizona” (master’s thesis, University of Oregon, 2009). Following designation, NHAs have three years, as mandated in their authorizing legislation, to complete a management plan. The secretary of the interior must approve the document. Michelle Kann, “Heritage Area Meeting Crowded,” Yuma Sun, February 27, 2004, NewsBank: Access World News—Historical and Current; Michelle Kann, “Property Owners Express Concerns with Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Boundaries,” Yuma Sun, February 8, 2004, NewsBank: Access World News—Historical and Current. Details of the steps taken by the NHA in the months following the controversy over the billboard and management plan come from contemporary newspaper articles and from Charles Flynn, former executive director of the Yuma Crossing NHA. Charles Flynn, emails to author, November 8, 2019, and November 11, 2019. Charles Flynn, emails to author, November 8, 2019, and November 11, 2019; Michelle Volkman, “Boundary Change One Step Closer,” Yuma Sun, March 11, 2006, NexusUni. A summary of the achievements of the Yuma Crossing NHA is available in an evaluation report commissioned by the NPS. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Evaluation Findings, Debra Rog et al., August 2015, accessed November 1, 2019, https://www.nps.gov/subjects /heritageareas/upload/Yuma-v2016-2.pdf. Miller, “An Ugly Heritage,” 24, 28. Charles Flynn, email to author, November 11, 2019. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Utah created a state-level heritage area program. Only a few other jurisdictions (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Massachusetts) have ever sponsored such an initiative. Prior to federal designation in 2006, both the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area and the Great Basin National Heritage Route had achieved status as state heritage areas. Media reports linked the plan to ongoing disputes over the designation of new wilderness areas on BLM lands within the same region. For examples of news coverage, see Layne Miller, “Utah Travel Council Rep Visits San Rafael, Emery County Progress, October 14, 1997; and Layne Miller, “San Rafael Swell Proposal Gains Support,” Emery County Progress, February 17, 1998. Additional information on this proposal is available in Jeffrey Olani Durrant, “Struggle Over Land and Lines: Mapping and Counter-Mapping Utah’s San Rafael Swell” (PhD diss., University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2001), 145–67. Information on the San Rafael project also comes from Brenda Barrett, former national coordinator for heritage areas. Brenda Barrett, phone interview by author, December 27, 2019. Mark Havnes, “Bennett to Fight for U.S. 89 Distinction; Proposal Seeks to Name Corridor as Historic Area,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 19, 2002, NexisUni; Bona,

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34 Gordon Y. K. Pang, “Heritage Area Plan Questioned,” Honolulu Advertiser, March 14, 2009, newspapers.com; Lee Stack, “National Heritage Areas Cut Off Local Input,” Honolulu Advertiser, May 25, 2009, newspapers. com. 35 Several NHAs have been developing partnerships to address these issues in programming and interpretive materials. One example comes from the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in Colorado. In partnership with Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and a local history museum, the NHA sponsors summer internships and archaeology camps for Indigenous and Hispano students from the region. In addition, the NHA also has been supporting language preservation initiatives. Also in Colorado, the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area participated in a yearlong consultation process with Northern Arapaho elders and others to protect and appropriately interpret the site where a council tree once stood along the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins. 36 For more on the Yuma East Wetlands project, see Fred Phillips, Charles Flynn, and Heidi Kloeppel, “At the End of the Line: Restoring Yuma East Wetlands, Arizona,” Ecological Restoration 27, no. 4 (2009): 398–406.

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28 As quoted in Martin Griffith, “Heritage Plan Gains Support: Tourism Could Take Place of Defunct Mining Industry,” Reno Gazette-Journal, March 1, 2002, newspapers.com. 29 “Heritage Plan Gains Support,” Reno Gazette-Journal. 30 As quoted in “Nevada Counties Hope Heritage Draws Visitors, Dollars,” Times-News (Twin-Falls, ID), March 6, 2002, newspapers.com. 31 As quoted in Lee Davidson, “U.S. Roadblocks Great Basin Plan,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), April 19, 2002, NexisUni. 32 Brandi Roberts, phone interview by author, August 28, 2019. 33 Nick Wooten, “Caddo Lake National Heritage Area is Nixed on Fear of Environmentalists,” Shreveport Times, July 26, 2018, accessed November 30, 2019, https://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news /2018/07/26/caddo-lake-national-heritage-area-nixed -fear-environmentalists/836718002/; Jeff Beimfohr, “Caddo Lake Heritage Area Bills Pulled from Congress,” KTBS.com, July 6, 2018, accessed November 30, 2019, https://www.ktbs.com/news/arklatex-indepth /updated-caddo-lake-heritage-area-bills-pulled-from -congress/article_e6867c8c-813c-11e8-97df-673e293 dc0dc.html.

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Ethically speaking, how should federal and state governments manage western public lands on behalf of American citizens? And who specifically ought to decide on what the ideal use of those lands may be? Activists and lobbyists tend to focus on the first question, but the second is just as important for successful management of these lands. One’s ideal moral theory about how humans ought to interact with the land will matter little if that theory lacks a well-organized group to champion, implement, and defend it.

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The Problem of Enclosing Western Public Lands: Working Locally to Preserve our American Commons

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We should pay more attention to local communities and foster their ability to lobby for a place at the table when it comes to managing public lands. Their close geographical proximity to these lands gives them the political clout and the rational self-interest to defend their turf. As I explain below, in recent decades the Hispano communities of northern New Mexico have increasingly relied on this clout to fight both preservationists and developers where local interests may be threatened. Whether or not one shares a specific community’s moral vision, one must come to terms with its political efficacy. In this essay I suggest that local communities can be a bridge between extreme market- or ecology-based moral visions that, when pressed beyond abstract rhetoric, are often self-defeating. One local community’s effective contest against outside investors should be situated within a more familiar story—the management of western lands as a rivalry between competing moral visions. The first vision is grounded in the idea that nature has rights, or at least intrinsic value. The logical management extension of this biocentrism is that the land ought to be maximized for its preservation. On the other side of the scale is a market-driven vision based on the idea that land ought to be managed according to free-market principles. But the first has little policy power currently, and the second, while ideologically claiming to be a free

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market, instead pushes for policies that sell or lease lands at below-market rates to subsidize powerful constituencies.1

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Land management is a pendulum swinging between these two extremes, depending on the values and ideologies of individuals making decisions. In his recent book, This Land, the journalist Christopher Ketcham explores the tensions between these two visions.2 Ketcham, a self-proclaimed devotee of Edward Abbey and adherent of the ecology-based vision of land management, points to and derides the relationship between capitalism, corruption, and development on public lands.3 Ketcham’s verdict is that the federal government has become, in the last three decades, more interested in aiding corporations and individuals who want to use public lands for profit and personal benefit through lease or sale than it is in preserving land from development for its natural beauty and ecological value. This is evident with the Trump administration’s shrinkage of Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 51 percent. And, in 2017, Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski attached a rider to the GOP tax bill that allowed oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This past September, the Department of Interior presented the final plan to open the area to the petroleum industry. The nation’s public lands, with origins in the Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance and later codified in federal law, are what may be termed an American Commons: lands collectively owned.4 Managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management under multiple-use mandates, they provide for a variety of economic and preservation-type uses. Land managers have the unenviable task of balancing these competing uses. As a result of the Progressive policies set in place by President Theodore Roosevelt and his head of the newly created Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, Americans assumed that the federal government would conserve and manage a portion of the public lands for recreation and public use.5 Later legislation passed during and after the 1960s required land management agencies to consider not merely economic interests but ecological ones as well—bringing

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even more plurality and contested values into land management decisions. Americans generally hold the consensus that federal management ought to balance economic uses and preservation on public lands. In the current federal bureaucracy, with an emphasis on clearcut timber production and strip-mining minerals by large corporations, the focus is more on intensive development. More precisely, federal land policy favors national interests at the expense of local conditions when determining the highest and best use of the national commons. We may want to rethink that balance. Given the swinging pendulum that currently emphasizes development over preservation, a historical approach is helpful in understanding the dynamic between federal ownership and local control of public lands and conceiving of the many ways to empower others, not just duly authorized federal authorities, to manage lands for the public good.6 One strategy for mitigating development has been through private purchase for preservation. For example, Ted Turner purchased a 590,000-acre parcel known as Vermejo Park in northern New Mexico. It is three-fourths the size of Rhode Island and functions as a private nature preserve that is home to elk, bear, buffalo, and some of the most spectacular fishing holes in the state. It is, however, entirely private. Only those who have permission to enter the property gratuitously or are willing to pay the $1,200 per night accommodation rate can enjoy the nature reserve. Turner’s private reserve is not the only model for private land preservation: private charitable foundations such the Grand Canyon Trust, the Wilderness Society, and the Nature Conservancy have purchased lands that they then set aside for the public’s recreational use in ways that conform to the stipulations set by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Given the limitations of funding sources, however, these purchases result in relatively little land that is open and accessible to the public. The inadequacy of federal and private efforts to successfully protect large swaths of public lands, then, gives rise to the question: Is there some other institution that can succeed where federal and private decision-making has failed? Which institutions will protect the interests of local cultural and economic stakeholders?

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The citizens of New Mexico have had a long and often troubled relationship with the federal government when it comes to the management of public lands. For example, in October of 1966, Reies López Tijerina and five hundred others, part of La Alianza Federal de Mercedes, occupied the Echo Park Amphitheatre in the Carson National Forest in protest of the federal government’s role in dispossessing Hispanos and Native Americans from their homelands. They reclaimed the forest lands for themselves as reparations for their ancestors’ land losses.7 In a place where people define their relationship to the federal government through land loss, it is no wonder that many farmers and ranchers had and still have a hostile relationship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal agencies. They balk at paying fees to graze animals and day-use fees to collect piñon nuts, herbs, or kindling on lands they believe had belonged to their ancestors before being taken from them by “legal” means. The purpose of federal land management, whether for preservation or for development, makes little difference to the New Mexicans who had land taken from them in the mid-nineteenth century. What they experience, regardless of intention, is the loss of local resource use previously available to their ancestors. As in other cases where local Hispano and Indigenous peoples are involved, federal agents often do

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The only people who encounter more derision from local New Mexicans than federal land managers, however, are outsiders who purchase and privatize large tracts of land. These buyers, like Ted Turner and Jack Taylor, who, in the early 1960s, purchased 56,000 acres that sat on the Colorado–New Mexico border, acquire land and then exclude locals from their traditional practices of clearing downed timber, hunting, fishing, and gathering herbs and medicines.8 It is within this historical context—the combined federal takeover and privatization of land that boxed out local hunters, hikers, backpackers, ranchers, and farmers from their historic lands—that the Stanley case was dealt with by the Mora County and state of New Mexico officials.

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The Case of Stanley v. Mora County Board of Commissioners

not understand the local history and land-use patterns. This lack of knowledge often leads to mismanaged lands and unhappy local users.

For decades, David Stanley, a private land owner who resides in Texas, had been at odds with local ranchers and hunters, as well as the state and local officials, over roads that cut through his private property but that also provided access to New Mexico State Trust Lands open to the public. Stanley owns about 15,000 noncontiguous acres in parcels that sit on the boundary of Mora and Colfax counties just north of Las Vegas. His property is interspersed within the 53,000 acres of state trust lands known at the White (or White’s) Peak Area. In 2009, the State Land Office proposed a land swap with four private owners, including Stanley, in an attempt to resolve issues about whose land was where and who had access to the public lands that surrounded their private property. The state’s goal was to better consolidate private holdings and separate them from public lands. But Gary King, then the New Mexico attorney general, questioned the legality of the land swap, and the state courts eventually ruled the swap illegal.9

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I want to discuss a set of institutions that are sometimes neglected when these questions arise: state and local governments. Sitting between the federal government and private organizations, state and local governments can provide a management structure that takes into account the complex needs of the local people who use public lands by balancing competing demands, relying on indigenous knowledge, and providing for ecological protection even as it makes room for development interests. Local state governments occupy a unique—and I would argue underutilized—position for managing public lands for the benefit of those who need and use them the most.

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In July 2010, in response to the failed deal, David Stanley threatened to permanently close the roads and, consequently, access to the public lands that surround his property. He put up gates with locks across the roads that entered his property (but led to public lands), and had his employees patrol some of the roads. He also sued the Mora County Commission in 2011 to

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privatize the road through a quiet claim action. Without admittance to those public roads, the public lost access to tens of thousands of acres of state trust lands.10 By closing the roads, Stanley essentially enclosed public lands within his control. All of the White Peak lands, both his private lands and the state trust lands, could be accessed only by his private clients who paid high prices for hunting licenses and packages to roam the high altitude range in search of elk, bear, and turkey.

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This was a lucrative business for Stanley. To hunt in the White Peak area, hunters need a license from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which costs between sixty-five and ninety dollars per tag. Local families use their tags not just for sport but often to supplement their larder. For many families, hunting is an essential part of their culture and household economy. In 2017, the state issued 450 elk licenses to the public for the White Peak area. That same year Stanley purchased 253 additional licenses for his clients to use on his property, as well as on the adjacent state lands. He paid the same fee but then sold them to his clients for $8,500 a piece, which also included guides and vacation packages. In 2017, Stanley made a half million dollars from his hunting operations.11 He had every incentive to make sure that his clients had exclusive access to the adjacent state lands not easily accessible to the public. After his attempts to close the roads, local and state officials worked together to challenge Stanley’s claims that the roads were essentially unused and had been abandoned by the state and the public.12 The Mora County Commission and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office countered Stanley by arguing that Native Americans, Hispanos, and Anglo traders had been using those roads consistently for generations. Jicarilla Apaches had first traversed the area since the eighteenth century, making paths and roads that they used for resource (trees, food, herbs) collection, hunting, and trading. Later, Hispano and Anglo settlers followed these trails and expanded them by creating a thriving trade network between Taos, Mora, and the eastern plains toward Bent’s Fort in Colorado. These trails eventually became graded and paved roads in the early twentieth century, used for trade as well as for transporting

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lumber from an emerging market in timber cutting. Local communities thrived until the mid-twentieth century when residents increasingly moved to cities like Pueblo, Denver, and Albuquerque. In the last fifty years, the roads have been used mostly by hunters, campers, and hikers.13 The attorney general’s office also argued that the public roads had been made, improved, and paid from state funds. In 1929, the state legislature passed a comprehensive law establishing the state’s road system that was meant to improve public safety as well as enhance travel and trade. In 1985, because the roads in the remote White Peak’s region were being used less, the state highway office quitclaimed roads in the region to the State Game Commission, which agreed to maintain them for public use. Over the years, the State Game Commission, along with local agencies such as the Mora County Commission, had agreed with private property owners in the area to an open gate agreement on most of the roads to allow free passage for all hunters between public and private lands. In the minds of local users and officials, Stanley’s closing of those roads was a breech of the public trust. In the summer of 2018, after a protracted legal process that lasted eight years, the county and state prevailed over Stanley, as the court ruled that the roads were open to the public. Stanley could not impede the free passage of the public across his lands. The more than 50,000 acres of New Mexico State Trust Lands would continue to be open to those who wanted to hunt, camp, picnic, and hike on them. This case was watched by both large private landowners and environmental groups, who saw it as a test case of whether the state could protect public lands from efforts of private enclosure.

Empowering Local Communities The Stanley case suggests that networks of elected local and state officials and their constituents have the capacity politically, legally, and legislatively to contest exclusive use of public lands by landowners. The federal government, by contrast, only has a legislative mandate to protect lands. Federal government

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The grassroots fight to protect public lands has become more difficult and ineffective because of the need to rely on federal agencies and bureaucracies, which may or may not be sympathetic to local conditions. Historically, public lands have been polarized in a number of ways: private versus public, wilderness versus development, state management versus federal management. One way to break through the political and bureaucratic stagnation may be to empower and pay more attention to local conditions. After all, land-use decisions about federal lands are often made in Washington, D.C. or in regional offices with little consideration of the impact on and traditional practices of local families. These federal bureaucracies are more easily captured and influenced by lobbyists and industry insiders who have the means to persuade them to open these lands for development. As the Stanley case demonstrates on a small scale, perhaps it is time to put effort into strengthening local and state democratic institutions that are better informed about what is best, not only for local communities, but also for the long-term health and vitality of the American commons, our public lands.

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For the ecology-based vision, see for example, Roderick Nash, The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989). Christopher Ketcham, This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West (New York: Viking Press, 2019). In particular, Ketcham cites and engages most directly with Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang (New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1975). Ketcham praises eco-warriors for challenging private landowners, corporations, and government agencies. Ketcham would easily place himself on the side of the wilderness preservationists. The English term commons was popularized by Garrett Harden, “Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, December 3, 1968, 1243–49. See also Frank van Laerhoven and Elinor Ostrom, “Traditions and Trends in the Study of the Commons,” International Journal of the Commons 1, no. 1 (October 2007): 3–28. There is a deep literature regarding the development of progressive legislation, which had to balance these competing interests. See, in particular, Benjamin Johnson, Escaping the Dark, Gray City: Fear and Hope in Progressive-Era Conservation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), and Louis Warren, “Owning Nature: Towards an Environmental History of Private Property,” in The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, ed. Andrew Isenberg (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) 398–425. Jim Robbins, “Open for Business: The Trump Revolution on America’s Public Lands,” Yale Environment 360, October 9, 2019, accessed February 7, 2020, http:e360 .yale.edu. For background on Tijerina and La Alianza, see Lorena Oropeza, The King of Adobe: Reies Lopez Tijerina, Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement (Durham: University of North Carolina Press, 2019). For background on how many New Mexicans lost their claims to private property, see Maria E. Montoya, Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Problem of Land in the American West, 1840–1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). Maria E. Montoya, “Dividing the Land: The Taylor Ranch and the Limited Access Commons,” in Land in the American West: Private Claims and the Common Good, ed. William Robbins (Pullman: University of Washington Press, 2009). “Landowner, State Finish White Peak Trial in Taos Court,” Taos News, May 14, 2018. “Landowner Threatens to Block White Peak Access” Santa Fe New Mexican, August 28, 2010. David N. Stanley vs. Mora County Board of Commissioners, et al., Eighth Judicial District Court, Colfax County, August 29, 2018, 32, 42. Although he did not, Stanley could have made a plausible claim that the roads ought to have been recognized under the R.S. 2477 statute. Maria E. Montoya, “Expert Witness Written Testimony,” March 27, 2017, in author’s possession.

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As any politician knows, it is difficult to organize people to show up for hearings, making sure they understand the law. This kind of local grassroots movement takes organizational skill, time, and money. Best equipped to overcome hurdles effectively are politicians with electoral ties to voters: county commissioners, state attorneys general, (Indian) Pueblo councils, and city councils. In the Stanley case, local users agitated for their county commission to challenge Stanley’s lawsuit to privatize the roads. Those county commissioners, in turn, mobilized their political networks in Santa Fe to get the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office to intervene in the case and give its political and legal backing to the local fight.

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officials cannot mobilize political forces. Because they lack, by design, access to these networks, federal agencies and bureaucrats are more likely to be influenced by national lobbyists and corporations. Local field agents of federal bureaucracies such as the Forest Service and BLM, no matter how well intentioned, lack any practical capacity to mobilize locals to protect those residents’ interests.

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Public Grazing Lands and the Progressive Conservation Movement: Reassessing the Gospel of Efficiency

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If historian Samuel P. Hays defined Progressive conservation as the “rational planning” and “efficient development and use of all natural resources,” in his 1959 book Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, then the lack of a comprehensive range management program on the western public domain throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries stands out as one of its greatest failures.1 This failure is stunning when compared to the achievements of the period in regards to water development under the reclamation movement and management of the nation’s forests, national parks, and national monuments. Such achievements had profound consequences for subsequent historiography, which became compartmentalized according to specific bureaucracies (the Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Park Service, for example) or to particular natural resources such as trees, water, or scenery. Nowhere are these political and historiographical divisions clearer than on the western range. Today, most low-elevation arid rangelands in the Intermountain West are administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), while the region’s lush mountain meadows are managed by the Forest Service. Livestock graze both landscapes, and many ranchers utilize both to ensure the economic success and sustainability of their operations. Yet public lands historians have traditionally treated BLM and Forest Service rangelands, as well as the animals and people who use them, as independent of each other.2 National forest and BLM rangelands are unique landscapes, but their use by livestock during different seasons (a process known as transhumance) and their immense scale (approximately 316 million acres in the Intermountain West) requires historians to look at both.3 To that end, this essay examines the work of botanist Frederick V. Coville, who was among a growing group of federal officials during the Progressive Era who investigated the issue of livestock grazing on all public lands in the Intermountain

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Throughout the summer, Coville interviewed sheep operators and catalogued plants believed to be most useful to livestock. Here was the scientific, rational process at work, and Coville’s report was among the most important early studies on livestock grazing within the forest reserves. In Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, Samuel Hays even referred to it as “the first scientific range investigation in the United States.”7 In it, Coville concluded that the outright removal of sheep from western forest reserves was impractical, if not impossible, because these animals and their handlers were already on the land. The only solution, one reinforced by Forestry Division chief Bernard Fernow, was the creation of “proper [grazing] restrictions and regulations” that balanced livestock use in each reserve with forest growth and watershed protection.8

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By the summer of 1897, Coville was investigating rangelands within the Cascade Range Forest Reserve (now Willamette National Forest) in Oregon, then under the supervision of the Department of the Interior. There, he observed a landscape used by over 188,000 sheep despite previous attempts by the Interior department to prohibit sheep grazing on the reserve.5 After a series of protests and lawsuits from sheep operators in the region, the GLO finally allowed sheep grazing within the reserve in June 1897. Yet Coville observed that sheep entered the reserve prior to when the GLO’s announcement went into effect, rendering any attempt to issue grazing permits to specific operators “ineffective” for the 1897 grazing season.6

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West. Coville graduated from Cornell University in 1887 and became chief botanist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 1893. At this time, much of the region’s rangelands were in the public domain, or open for settlement and distributed by the General Land Office (GLO), located in the Department of the Interior. Meanwhile, Coville’s Division of Botany and, later, the Division of Agrostology (created in 1895), situated within the USDA, were tasked with investigating forage conditions and cataloging plants throughout the Intermountain West. Such work placed Coville and other division officials in the unique position of conducting scientific work on western landscapes regardless of federal jurisdiction.4

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Frederick Vernon Coville (1867–1937), chief botanist of the United States Department of Agriculture whose work in the Intermountain West informed the grazing regulations on the public domain that would be codified with the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. He is also prominent as a founder of the United States National Arboretum, in 1927. Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the lack of regulations up to this point, forage conditions could have been worse on the Cascade Range Forest Reserve. In fact, Coville observed that overgrazing had only just “begun” because of “trampling” in sheep bedding grounds and along travel routes.9 Yet he and other botanists described a much different situation on low-elevation rangelands within the public domain that lay outside and adjacent to the Cascade and other forest reserves. In some places, Coville described gullies that were twenty feet deep and “long since denuded of grass by overgrazing.”10 Similarly, during a survey of range conditions in the northern Great Basin in 1901, botanist David Griffiths noted areas where “there was practically no more feed than on the floor of a corral.”11 Such observations went on to emphasize that deteriorating range conditions on

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the public domain contributed to instability (or what Coville called “restlessness”) among livestock operators as they moved constantly in search of better forage, wearing out their animals and exhausting rangeland resources in the process.12

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This phenomenon was the epitome of what Progressive conservation experts called the public domain “range problem.”13 According to Coville and other observers, the challenge stemmed not from the fact that the West comprised of marginal or submarginal land, but rather from the government’s inability to administer livestock grazing on the public domain in an equitable manner among ranchers who already lived in the region. Although historians such as E. Louise Peffer commonly referred to public domain rangelands as the “remnants” of America’s public lands system due to their aridity, livestock utilized these landscapes nonetheless.14 As late as 1931, over one million sheep grazed on the western public domain during the winter, and another 628,000 did so during the spring.15 Such statistics indicate that these lands continued to offer what the esteemed John Wesley Powell once called “nutritious but scanty grass.”16 In 1903, a Public Lands Commission comprised of W. A. Richards of the General Land Office, Frederick H. Newell of the Reclamation Service, and Gifford Pinchot of the Bureau of Forestry (later Forest Service) took up the challenge of range regulation. The commission met with stockgrowers throughout the West and, as Samuel Hays wrote, “stirred up a hornets’ nest” over the proposition of leasing public domain rangelands for grazing.17 Hays described large cattle operations as speaking in favor of the proposition while smaller ranchers opposed it. Western newspapers criticized the leasing proposal as monopolistic and as a threat to future homesteading. Subsequent leasing bills in Congress were subject to similar criticisms. Indeed, by 1926, sixty-five leasing bills had reached the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys and none of them were reported on favorably.18 Although Hays and subsequent historians commonly argued that such leasing proposals foundered due to politics, such focus on the political

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failures of range regulation is unsatisfactory. After all, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, which created the framework for a federal range management program on the public domain, emerged from similar political conflicts. If the history of public lands is one of “a tug of war” between the impulses of private development and public ownership, as E. Louise Peffer argued, then any political resolution to grazing disputes had to resolve the tensions between both extremes. As a USDA official who investigated public domain grazing lands, Coville was well suited to navigate such disputes and propose solutions.19 With Coville’s assistance, the Public Lands Commission recommended the creation of “certain grazing districts or reserves” on the public domain, within which ranchers could receive access on a permit basis that ranged from five to ten years with the possibility of renewal.20 Preference in using a grazing district would go to established livestock raising operations that could prove their use of the range prior to its organization as a grazing district and its integral role in their annual operations. In his written contribution to the commission’s report, Coville went on to argue that the individual tasked with implementing the grazing district program “should have a thorough knowledge of the live-stock industry of the western United States, preferably such a knowledge as is derived from actual former experience as a stock raiser.”21 A potential administrator had to have connections with the livestock associations, be able to sell the program to the industry, and recruit individuals to assist him. There was more to this idea than simply gaining the livestock industry’s seal of approval, however, since administrative and financial matters also had to be considered. As Coville suggested, this approach ensured that the number of district personnel remained small and focused primarily on managing the public domain for the benefit of local ranchers and homesteaders. Coville provided the details for what the commission called a “moderate fee” by suggesting one of “not less than 5 cents per head per season for [sheep and goats] or 25 cents for [cattle and horses]” on the federal grazing districts.22 He went on to

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Coville’s recommendations regarding grazing fees and grazing districts, combined with his report on the Cascade Range Forest Reserve, represented a compromise between the wholesale absence of federal grazing regulations and the outright removal of livestock from the western range. As he wrote in his report on the Cascade reserve, “[A] system can be adopted which, honestly and intelligently carried out, will stop the real evils of the present system

and at the same time maintain the interests of all the communities concerned.”24 This reference to maintaining “the interests of all the communities concerned” was quintessentially Progressive and anticipated Gifford Pinchot’s famous notions of the “greatest good” philosophy.25 Yet implementing this program required working with the same ranchers and livestock associations credited with blocking grazing reform. Such industry influence stemmed from the strength of the livestock associations within western politics during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as from the economic prestige and political ambitions of the wealthiest ranchers.26 Thus, despite Coville’s interest in the public good, his reports ultimately indicate that the overall success for federal range reform on public grazing lands depended upon a relatively small number of western inhabitants who used most of the landscape, along with the political support of their respective associations and representatives in Congress.

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stress that these fees should not raise federal revenue. After a onetime congressional appropriation, Coville argued that the money received from permittees could cover “the cost of administration of the system, including the cost of classification and appraisal.”23 Any surplus, Coville continued, should be spent on district improvements. In sum, Coville proposed that ranchers should see a direct return of their investment rather than have their fees support a large grazing bureaucracy or fill federal coffers.

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Landscape scene in Nevada, 2012. Signs and advertisements like this are common in the American West. Photo by Matthew A. Pearce.

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Frederick Coville’s work in the Cascade reserve helped lay the foundation for modern range science, influenced the livestock grazing program on western national forests, and even anticipated regulations enacted by the Taylor Grazing Act. Yet historians have overlooked his willingness to engage in ordinary range politics. For instance, Coville emphasized the importance of working with the local woolgrowers’ associations to implement a grazing program for the Cascade reserve. A committee comprised of representatives from these groups, he argued, “would be thoroughly competent to divide the range, and could do it both more equitably and with less objection from dissatisfied owners than could any officer or offices of the Government.”27 Coville might have been an expert hired by the federal government, but this statement does not reflect a desire to create a grazing administration run by experts. Although Coville could not predict the future, his statement about an ideal range administrator with “a thorough knowledge of the livestock industry” effectively described future federal range administrators, most notably Farrington Carpenter, the first director of the Division of Grazing (1934–1938), and Marion Clawson, the first director of the Bureau of Land Management (1948–1953). Signs that advertise “Your Public Lands” are everywhere in the American West. Coville’s experiences reveal the scientific expertise and personal compromises involved with the creation, use, and administration of these lands. For every Cliven or Ammon Bundy who makes the national news for their actions or statements against public lands, there are hundreds of arguments, negotiations, and concessions made between public land administrators and users that do not make national headlines. Thus, if federal conservation implied “social control,” as Benjamin Hibbard once argued, historians and the general public should pay closer attention to how this control took shape and remains subject to constant renegotiation within local communities.28 Federal rangelands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service provide one area to examine these relationships, as they are among the places where science, planning, and politics overlap on western public lands.

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Notes 1

Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement (1959; repr., New York: Atheneum, 1974), 2. By “western public domain,” this essay refers to the millions of acres of western land that were available for private ownership under land laws such as the Homestead Act during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 2 While the historiography of other conservation fields such as forestry, parks, and water remains vast and we have seen the emergence of new works in energy, gender, and urban studies, the literature on range management remains small. Notable works on Forest Service range management include Thomas G. Alexander, “From Rule of Thumb to Scientific Range Management: The Case of the Intermountain Region of the Forest Service,” Western Historical Quarterly 18 (October 1987): 409–28; and William D. Rowley, U.S. Forest Service Grazing and Rangelands: A History (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985). For the public domain and Bureau of Land Management, see Wesley Calef, Private Grazing and Public Lands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); Phillip O. Foss, Politics and Grass (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1960); and James R. Skillen, The Nation’s Largest Landlord: The Bureau of Land Management in the American West (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009). Only a small number of authors have attempted to examine forest rangelands and the public domain rangelands in relation to each other. Bernard DeVoto, “The West against Itself,” in The Easy Chair (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955), 231–55, was among the first to do so. See also Karen R. Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning: Ranchers, the Government, and the Property between Them (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); and William Voigt Jr., Public Grazing Lands: Use and Misuse by Industry and Government (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1976). 3 Cynthia Nickerson et al., Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2007 (Washington, DC: USDA Economic Research Service Economic Information Bulletin No. 89, 2011), 10, 22–24. The 316 million acres figure concerns the total estimated land area of all national forests and BLM lands in the western United States as of 2015. See Carol Hardy Vincent et al., Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2017), 21. 4 Representative examples include H. L. Bentley, Cattle Ranges of the Southwest: A History of the Exhaustion of the Pasturage and Suggestions for Its Restoration (Washington, DC: USDA Farmers’ Bulletin No. 72, 1898); David Griffiths, Forage Conditions on the Northern Border of the Great Basin (Washington, DC: USDA Bureau of Plant Industry Bulletin No. 15, 1902); Cornelius L. Shear, Field Work of the Division of Agrostology: A Review and Summary of the Work Done since the Organization of the Division, July 1, 1895 (Washington, DC: USDA Division of Agrostology Bulletin No. 25, 1901); and George Vasey, Report of Investigation of Grasses of Arid Districts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado (Washington, DC: USDA, Division of Botany Bulletin No. 1, 1886). In 1901, the Division of Botany and the Division of Agrostology merged to create the Bureau of Plant Industry.

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18 Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 221n23. 19 Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 5. See also Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 58. 20 U.S. Congress, Senate, Doc. 189, Report of the Public Lands Commission with Appendix, 58th Cong., 3d sess., 1905, xxi. 21 The Forest Service reprinted the recommendations of Coville and notable rancher-turned-forester Albert Potter in a separate bulletin titled Grazing on the Public Lands: Extract from the Report of the Public Lands Commission (Washington, DC: USDA, Forest Service Bulletin No. 62, 1905), 64. 22 Grazing on the Public Lands, 67. 23 Grazing on the Public Lands, 67. 24 Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing, 46. 25 This phrase came from a February 1, 1905, letter regarding the purpose of the national forests for Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson written by Gifford Pinchot. For a reprint, see Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (1947; repr., Washington, DC: Island Press, 1974), 261–62. 26 Marion Clawson, The Western Range Livestock Industry (1950; repr., New York: Arno Press, 1979), 11–12. 27 Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing, 52. 28 Benjamin Horace Hibbard, A History of Public Land Policies (1924; repr., University of Wisconsin Press, 1956), 563.

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Frederick V. Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon (Washington, DC: USDA, Division of Forestry Bulletin No. 15, 1898), 16. Coville, 11. Hays, Gospel of Efficiency, 55. Bernard E. Fernow to James Wilson, February 8, 1898, in Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing, 3. See also Rowley, U.S. Forest Service, 33–34. Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing, 26–27. Coville, 27. Griffiths, Forage Conditions, 28. Coville, Forest Growth and Sheep Grazing, 27; Griffiths, Forage Conditions, 22, 30. W. J. Spillman, “Preface,” in Range Investigations in Arizona, David Griffiths (Washington, DC: USDA Bureau of Plant Industry Bulletin No. 67, 1904), 5. E. Louise Peffer, The Closing of the Public Domain: Disposal and Reservation Policies, 1900–1950 (1951; repr., New York: Arno Press, 1972), 169. William Peterson, “Land Utilization in the Western Range Country,” in Proceedings of the National Conference on Land Utilization (Chicago: November 19–21, 1931), 46. John Wesley Powell, Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States, with a More Detailed Account of the Lands of Utah (1878; repr., Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1983), 20. Hays, Gospel of Efficiency, 62. See also Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 45–58.

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After a Century: National Forest Management in the Intermountain Region at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

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At the turn of the twenty-first century, slightly over a century had passed since enactment of the Forest Service Organic Act in 1897. Before 1897, General Land Office (GLO) special agents had made some investigations of illegal grazing and logging on the western states’ public lands.1 After the Organic Act’s passage, supervisors and rangers of the GLO’s Forestry Division administered what were then called forest reserves, previously established under the General Revision Act of 1891. Most activities on forest reserves consisted of logging and grazing. In 1905, Congress transferred the forest reserves from the General Land Office to the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot renamed the reserves as national forests and combined them into nine regions, with the Intermountain Region (Region 4) encompassing forest areas in Utah, Nevada, Idaho (south of the Salmon River), Wyoming (west of the Continental Divide), and small chunks of western Colorado and eastern California. Between passage of the Organic Act and the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act in 1960, the foresters of Region 4 worked with some success to improve the condition of the lands under their stewardship. The major problems they encountered resulted from overgrazing sheep and cattle and an extensive increase of the timber cut during the 1950s. After the passage of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act, Forest Service employees often called their tasks “functionalism”—the management of various “functions” such as timber, grazing, watershed, wildlife, and recreation to maintain and improve the land conditions.2 Compared to earlier foresters, Forest Service managers in the last half of the twentieth century were increasingly faced with diverse, competing interests vying for position among national forest user groups. Public disagreement over the ways the Forest Service has managed and should manage the lands under its stewardship has created difficulty for foresters. Often the disagreement is portrayed in terms of opposition

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The officers of Region 4 have of necessity addressed such points of view during the region’s entire existence. At no time have they faced and coped with such diverse points of view more than during the 1980s and 1990s as they drafted new forest plans. During these years, supervisors and rangers met these challenges under the leadership of the regional foresters Stan Tixier (1982– 91), Gray Reynolds (1991–94), Dale Bosworth (1994–97), and Jack Blackwell (1997–2001). In drafting the plans, foresters reenvisioned their

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The foresters were fortunate to have such specialists since they had to cope with some problems that were either different or of greater consequence from their predecessors. For instance, because of the increase in predatory and feral animals protected and, in some cases, reintroduced under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, foresters had to plan for problems of increased and often violent confrontation and competition among predators, grazing wildlife such as elk and feral horses, and domestic animals on grazing allotments. With the use of trenching and reduction of animals in allotments, the region generally eliminated the rock-mud floods that had plagued the forests during the 1920s and 30s. By contrast, the major remaining unsolved watershed problems ranged from wet-mantle and frozen-mantle floods (that is, floods occurring on water-soaked or frozen ground, as occurred during the winter and spring of 1983), to livestock overgrazing in riparian areas.

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Like those who want to work the land, not all environmentalists share similar goals or methods to achieve them. Some propose eliminating all livestock, mining, and logging from the national forests. Some oppose salvage sales, and others lobby against the use of prescribed burning as a management tool. Some believe that by opposition to one of more of these management tools they can restore landscapes and wildlife to a pristine, prehuman contact condition. By contrast, other environmentalists favor commercial activities in suitable places. Those forest users who engage in tourism and recreation often divide into those who favor low-impact activities such as backpacking or fishing and those who prefer to ride off-highway vehicles, snowmobiles, or engage in commercial skiing. Some environmentalists are firmly against the payment of market-based fees for the use of amenities. Others believe that such fees are necessary to protect and maintain national forest amenities.

work in the context of the forest ecosystem rather than separate multiple uses. Fortunately, in drafting the plans, the regional office, forest supervisors, and district rangers had the assistance of biologists, ecologists, archaeologists, agronomists, range specialists, watershed specialists, and other experts on staff.

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between competing priorities or ideologies— commodity versus amenity interests, or development versus preservation—but such a portrayal oversimplifies the various points of view. Probably no rancher wants to herd cattle or sheep on overgrazed rangelands. Virtually no logger wants to cut trees on eroded slopes, and neither the rancher nor logger wants to see rivers plagued with silted spawning grounds. Instead, loggers, ranchers, and their supporters tend to divide into those who favor ecological management, and those whose principal concern is how they can make a living from fattening livestock or cutting trees. I would suggest that in many cases, the success of the Forest Service in dealing with such controversies depends as much on the public interests as on management of forest resources. That is, positions taken by substantial portions of the public or influential people can affect forest management decisions.

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With passage of the Organic Act of 1897, Congress hoped to restore forests from previous and ongoing indiscriminate overgrazing, logging, fires, and floods. Between 1950 and 1970, forest supervisors and rangers appointed under regional foresters Chet Olsen (1950–57) and Floyd Iverson (1957–70) accomplished mixed results as they struggled to improve the forest conditions. Forest rangers worked with ranchers to reduce the number of sheep and cattle in grazing allotments. To aid in determining the optimum land condition, range managers adopted techniques such as transects (measured distances over which they could inspect changes in the land and its plants) and exclosures (areas in which no grazing was allowed) as they tried to restore the plants that would be browsed by livestock.3 During the 1950s, however, the Congress and Forest Service staff in Washington, D.C. pushed the region to increase logging. Unfortunately, the result was logging roads constructed

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Fence through pinon-juniper cover on public land delineating a controlled grazing area (on the left) near Price, Utah. The photograph was taken in 1939; since 1935, goats had grazed only the area outside the fence (on the right). Photo by U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Utah State Historical Society, photo no. 3378.

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to a minimal standard, many following watercourses into dense stands of old growth. The pounding of logging trucks often dislodged dirt and debris from the roads, damaging the rivers and fish living in them.4 From the 1970s to the early 1990s, under regional foresters Vern Hamre (1970–80), Jeff Sermon (1980–82), and especially Stan Tixier the region began to solve some of the problems of timber management. During the period, the region proved that it could regrow timber stands. Foresters, however, encountered increased pressure both from wise use advocates who lobbied to increase logging and from environmentalists who proposed to reduce or even eliminate logging and grazing in the interest of recreation, wildlife, and environmental restoration. Increasingly, supervisors and rangers addressing these challenges relied on technical experts in planning and executing forest plans in ecosystem restoration. Considering the employment of such experts, Christopher K. Lehman in a 1981 study examined how the forest ranger had morphed from the lone official in a forest district to a line officer supervising a staff of specialists.5 Instead of reducing the ranger’s tasks, however, the employment of such specialists increased the scope of knowledge rangers had to master. This meant that rangers now had an increasingly complex mix of responsibilities and technical knowledge required to manage such resources as watersheds, wilderness, timber, recreation, wildlife, range, special uses, law enforcement, and mining.6

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Contrary to public perceptions, cattle, rather than sheep, cause the major overgrazing and soil damage in riparian areas. Unlike the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when sheep and cattle tended to range free on public lands and forests, by the mid-twentieth century the Forest Service required ranchers to control sheep by herding them in allotments where Forest Service personnel measured the condition of the land and plants. Within their assigned allotments, however, cattle generally ranged freely. If their movements are not controlled, both cattle and other wildlife tend to graze near water sources. The Forest Service required ranchers to mitigate damage caused by cattle in riparian areas by establishing water troughs and salt licks away from streams and by moving the animals from section to section within the allotments. As Forest Service employees worked to eliminate environmental damage, their perceptions of their duties began to change. Before the late 1970s, most foresters said they managed the traditional functions codified in the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act (1960). Although foresters measured success by the condition of the land—especially watersheds—and they spoke of multiple use, they tended to view logging, grazing, recreation, watershed, wilderness, and wildlife as separate but interrelated activities. However, as employees prepared the forest plans during the late 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, they recognized that these functions

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In some ways, conditions in central management during the nineties were unusual. Thomas had no national forest line experience and Dombeck earned a bachelor’s and doctorate in zoology rather than forestry or range management like virtually all his predecessors. In addition, in an unusual change reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore involved themselves in ecosystem management in controversies over the northern spotted owl and salvage sales of fire and insect damaged trees.9 As they drafted and implemented the new plans to promote ecosystem management in the late 1980s and 1990s, some foresters reenvisioned their roles. In 1993, Nevada’s Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor R. M. (Jim) Nelson said that officers should perceive forest users as tools for meeting “ecological objectives” rather than as customers or as stakeholders. Rather than viewing cows as producers of red meat, foresters should consider them as one of the components of the ecosystem that included deer, elk, birds, plants, recreationists, and loggers. If any of these components did not contribute to managing healthy ecosystems, foresters had an obligation to find a way to fit them in. Forests, he said, must develop “healthy, sustainable, and diverse ecosystems for public benefit and use.” Nelson reorganized the line and staff officers into teams

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Unfortunately, recreation and other functions took their toll on forest lands and facilities just as grazing and logging did. By mid-1997, the Forest Service was saddled with a $1 billion maintenance backlog.14 Congress could have appropriated some funds for repair from the $900 million in the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Instead, legislators took 78 percent for deficit reduction and other programs, leaving only about $200 million for programs on the public lands.15 Although to address this deficiency Congress implemented a user fee collection system for recreational activities in 1996, users paid only an average of five cents per visit, which generated far too little revenue to cover the cost of eliminating the maintenance backlog.16 Such fees were not equivalent to those charged at private campgrounds that provided a comparable recreational experience. Moreover, beyond such minimal fees, recreational enthusiasts paid the public treasury nothing except taxes for their adventures. Although state fish and game departments charge for the privilege of hunting and fishing, the Forest Service receives no fees for managing or improving wildlife habitat. Owners of summer homes pay special-use fees, but political pressure has kept these well below the market value of the national forest lands their buildings occupy.

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Although the national forests had been established by statute to manage timber and watersheds, by the early 1990s recreation had become the “largest single program component in the region’s budget.”11 As George Olsen, former regional director of lands and recreation recognized, the public told forest planners that they wanted greater outdoor recreation and environmental values and experiences.12 In addition to dispersing through the national forests, recreationists patronized special permit areas such as ski areas and summer homes. In 1996, for instance, the service received more than $10 billion in revenue from ski areas.13

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The national office under chief foresters Dale Robertson (1987–1993), Jack Ward Thomas (1993–1996), and Michael Dombeck (1997–2001) also used the term ecosystem management. Dombeck said that he would hold each forest supervisor “accountable for key areas such as streamside condition and health, water quality, watershed health, noxious weed management, and endangered species habitat management and protection.”8

of ecological unit coordinators that included the forest supervisor and deputy supervisors. These teams provided services for the ranger districts in planning and implementing forest plans.10

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were not only interrelated, but actually bore an inseparable kinship to each other. If, for instance, grazing changed the condition of the land, it also affected other aspects of the ecosystem such as flora, fauna, and watershed health. With this recognition, many foresters began to speak of managing ecosystems rather than managing functions. In assessing this change, Dixie National Forest supervisor Hugh Thompson called ecosystem management “the next plateau above multiple use management.”7

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In addition to paying minimal fees, recreationists carried most of the blame for the facilities’ deterioration. Unfortunately, recreationists

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the composition of the forests and by pressure to inhibit the Forest Service’s efforts to correct the problems caused by density and natural disasters. By the twenty-first century, significant problems included the large numbers of overaged and overdense fir, the replacement of relatively drought resistant pine by fire-susceptible firs and Douglas firs, misunderstanding of prescribed fires, and resistance to all logging in national forests. Added to these were controversies over below-cost timber sales, logging in roadless areas, and salvage sales.19

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Resort and backcountry skiing are popular recreational and economic activities on national forest lands. This image from February 1972 shows the ski patrol practicing avalanche search techniques at Alta, Utah. Credit of Wasatch National Forest. Utah State Historical Society, photo no. 3657.

tended to believe that, in contrast with logging, ranching, and mining, their activities caused little or no damage to forest ecosystems. Attacking this view in a letter to the High Country News, Richard L. Knight, a professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University, pointed out that a “recent survey in BioScience found that outdoor recreation was the second largest cause (after dams) for the decline of endangered and threatened species.” Knight listed skiers, snowboarders, kayakers, rafters, climbers, bikers, and hunters as examples. Recreationists were, he pointed out, “more numerous than chainsaws . . . [and] more intelligent than cows.”17 Critics have also cited the damage caused by off-road vehicles.18 Region 4’s national forests faced considerable difficulty solving problems caused by recreation, but they also encountered problems with timber management. Although the Intermountain Region made some significant progress in managing timber harvests, it failed to achieve successful ecosystem management in this field. Problems resulted principally by the change in

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Despite the difficulties, Region 4 has had some success in timber management. Employees have cooperated with the timber industry in inaugurating methods such as helicopter logging that mitigate watershed damage. Moreover, the region has demonstrated that it can regrow trees in logged and burned areas, in part because of consideration of the entire ecosystem, in part because of more successful planting techniques, and in part because of the less-destructive logging methods used. Ecosystem management also led to the recovery of forests from the excessively careless road building of the 1950s. Thus, by 2000, downstream dams rather than logging posed the principal barrier to the return of anadromous fish. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the forests drafted new plans to incorporate various functions into coordinated ecosystem management. The region’s most serious challenges occurred in drafting the plan for Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. The largest in area of any national forest in the lower forty-eight states, Bridger-Teton’s three million acres shared northwestern Wyoming with other forests and with Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Nearly 85 percent of the people in Jackson, Wyoming, the largest population center near the forest, earned their living from tourism. Since most tourists came to the area for a forest experience in what they erroneously perceived as pristine wilderness, residents and visitors opposed cutting large blocks of trees. Forest Service officials in Washington told Bridger-Teton supervisor Brian Stout that his was “probably one of the most contentious forest plans to put together in the country.”20 Controversy erupted over the role that minimum management requirements—the heart of

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After the favorable decision in the Wind River Multiple Use case, the Bridger-Teton’s ASQ declined dramatically as foresters planned for healthy ecosystems. In the early 1990s the ASQ averaged a relatively modest 5 mmbf (million board feet of timber). By contrast, during the 1970s the ASQ on the Bridger-Teton had averaged about 35 mmbf.29

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The decision in the Wind River Multiple Use case allowed the Bridger-Teton and other national forests to set timber sale levels according to the impact on the ecosystem and thus “on very careful analysis of other resource impacts.”22 The Bridger-Teton was the first in the country to plan by using “reasonable development scenarios,” and the staff did so by organizing a blue ribbon committee consisting of representatives of various interests from the public and state, local, and federal agencies. The committee studied the geologic, developmental, and economic impact of various levels of leasing on the seven counties connected to the forest.

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of holding public hearings with owners, Stout “involved people” in “open workshops.” That technique avoided public hearings in which experience showed that those who testified tended to lock themselves into inflexible contradictory abstract views such as opposing all clear cuts, demanding maximum commodity production, or sticking to positions that ignored constraints imposed by law and regulations.27 In the workshops, Stout and his staff took “permittees and interested public” into the forests to observe as forest officers did “actual on-the-ground monitoring.”28 This method allowed users to see how and why the forest adopted various procedures in the interest of healthy ecosystem management.

In spite of these efforts, the Bridger-Teton received approximately twenty thousand different comments from throughout the United States, foreign countries, and Wyoming communities.23 Groups and individuals lodged nine appeals to the plan. Negotiation led to the withdrawal of all appeals, and the Forest Service approved the plan in June 1990.24 Stout believed that the agency avoided appeals and litigation because of the emphasis on “very extensive open public involvement.”25 Stout got “the public involved up front” by considering site-specific land management objectives “rather than trying to debate [abstractly] the pros and cons of various tools and techniques.” He knew that no one could really answer such abstract questions as “whether clear-cutting is good or .  .  . bad  .  . . unless you know what the land management objective [for the ecosystem] is.”26 In both drafting and implementing the plan, Stout viewed forest users as owners. Instead

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The reasons for the decline in ASQ are not hard to determine. Because of various recreational and ecological considerations, the planners classified fewer than three hundred thousand of the forest’s 3.3 million acres for timber production. Moreover, of the three hundred thousand acres, the forest had zoned two hundred thousand, or two-thirds, as wildlife-timber priority, which meant that the staff had to give the welfare of wildlife primary consideration in planning timber sales. Thus, the Bridger-Teton considered timber production the primary activity on only one hundred thousand acres—about 3 percent of the forest.30

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ecosystem management—should play in determining timber harvest levels. To try to hold the allowable sale quantities (ASQ) at a relatively high level, development-oriented wise use groups including the Wind River Multiple Use Advocates and Louisiana Pacific Corporation took the Forest Service to court. Stout spent two days on the stand testifying in the case. Rejecting the plaintiff’s arguments, in a “precedent-setting” decision, the judge ruled that “timber harvest levels were discretionary with the Secretary of Agriculture.” On advice of the Forest Service’s general counsel, Stout had the judge establish a legal precedent by publishing the decision.21

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Although through open workshops Stout solved problems in ecosystem management, Bridger-Teton and other national forests continue to encounter criticism and lobbying from an increasingly large number of conflicting interest groups—groups often cast in the simplistic dichotomy of commodity versus amenity interests, or developmentalists versus environmentalists. Moreover, forest managers often have to contend with those who fail to understand that national forests belong to all the people of the United States, and are regulated by Congress under Article IV Section 3 of the Constitution.31 Others seem unwilling to recognize that people

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who live near the national forests have a particular interest in their management because their livelihoods and lifestyles are intimately tied to the forests and because of the damage misuse can cause to their homes and property.32

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Some critics fail to recognize that some commodity interests do pay something for the use of public resources. Except in some salvage sales, sale of national forest timber is set by the market at auction to the highest bidder. Miners extracting leasable minerals such as coal and asphalt pay royalties to the federal government, and ski areas pay a percentage of their income to the national treasury for operating on the national forests. Still, because of the 1872 mining act, hard rock miners pay nothing to the federal government for the extraction from public lands of locatable minerals such as gold, silver, and copper. Nevertheless, fees such as those for summer homes established by other-than-market mechanisms illustrate a basic problem in public resource management—their essentially political component. A similar condition has existed in political conflicts, such as the efforts to transfer the forests either to the states or private interests. At the root of problems caused by conflict between various groups is the tendency for commodity and amenity interests that often exert political pressure to seek goods and services at lower than market rates. Economists call the application of political pressure to secure below-market charges “rent seeking.” Some economists like Delworth Gardner have considered “the . . . situation untenable.” Those with only a slight stake in the outcome of political decisions practice what political scientists call “rational ignorance.” That is, they remain relatively uninformed because the issues affect them only marginally. Gardner suggested in view of this rent seeking “a strong case can be made for privatizing the bulk of” nationally owned lands. He recognized, however, that this alternative is politically unlikely because of the interests involved and the problems of transition to private ownership are not adequately understood.33 The Bridger-Teton case has suggested that in the hands of skillful forest officers, public involvement in planning meetings allows discussion by a far wider range of people than open houses or hearings. In retrospect it seems

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evident that Brian Stout had taken a page from the practice of regional foresters Chet Olsen, Floyd Iverson, Vern Hamre, and Stan Tixier, who arranged forest trips with key individuals from commodity and environmental groups to inform them of forest needs in planning.34 Clearly, however, such participatory democracy is extremely expensive. One Forest Service economist estimated in the early 1980s that 30 percent of the budget went into “planning-like functions.”35 Significantly, studies made during the late 1980s concluded that such planning may actually cost more than the value of the resources the planning intends to manage.36 Moreover, the divisions between user groups seem to have intensified rather than diminished over time. It is almost impossible to read a daily newspaper over any length of time and not see evidence of appeals taken from some action of the Forest Service. In most cases, they are lodged by environmental groups that insist that the Forest Service has failed to conduct an adequate environmental assessment or that they oppose resource extraction in the interest of preserving the ecosystem for recreational activities or to preserve the existing ecosystem instead of altering it. The Intermountain Region has been in existence now for more than a century. The problems it faced in the past undoubtedly seemed as difficult to its managers then as those it faces now seem to the present administrators. The demands by various interests might never before have been so complex, but solutions were always hard to achieve. At the turn of the millennium, the leadership of the region recognized its challenges and set about trying to respond to them. The degree of success seems to have depended as much on the management of public relations as upon ecological management of national forest lands. Notes Thomas G. Alexander is the Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor Emeritus of Western American History at Brigham Young University. Over the years I have worked on Region 4’s history I have benefitted from the help and critiques of Stan Tixier, Hardy Redd, Dick Kline, Jack Lavin, John Burns, Sue Van Allen, and the late Bill Smart and Gibbs Smith. Conversations with Stephen Pyne, Don Worster, Bill Robins, and the late Sam Hays were insightful. I appreciate the interviews conducted by David Wilson, Andrea RadkeMoss, and Sondra Jones, and Jessie Embry’s assistance in

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18 H. Michael Anderson, “Reshaping National Forest Policy,” Issues in Science and Technology 16, no. 1 (Fall 1999), available at https://issues.org/anderson/ (accessed September 24, 2019). 19 In December 1998, Friends of the Earth, Forest Guardians, and other environmental groups sued the Forest Service to stop all logging on the ground that federal law requires the agency to consider the economic and social benefits of leaving a standing forest before making a decision to cut any trees. Salt Lake Tribune, December 18, 1998. 20 Brian Stout, interview by Andrea Radke, October 27, 1993, 1, FS Oral History Project. 21 Stout, interview. 22 Stout, interview, 2 23 Stout, interview, 3. 24 Stout, interview, 4. 25 Stout, interview, 3–4. 26 Stout, interview, 5. 27 Based on review of the manuscript by Stan Tixier. 28 Stout, interview, 6. 29 Fred A. Kingwell, interview by Sondra Jones, October 23, 1993, 14, FS Oral History Project. 30 Joe E. Ragsdale, interview by David Wilson, October 29, 1992, 10, FS Oral History Project. These figures differ from those in the forest plan, apparently because the plan’s estimates were based on FORPLAN analysis, a computer program that lacked the site-specific project analysis to calculate deviations. See Bridger-Teton, Land and Resource Management Plan, A6, copy at BridgerTeton National Forest Office, Jackson, Wyoming. 31 On this issue, I would suggest that readers would do well to read the discussion of the proposed Craig Bill in Journal of Forestry 96 (September 1998), especially Bill Imbergamo, “A Start on the Long Road to Reform,” 11–14, and Bob Bierer, “A Voice for the Stakeholders,” 21–23. 32 See William H. Meadows, “Turning Back the Clock,” Journal of Forestry 96 (September 1998): 15–17. 33 B. Delworth Gardner, “The Political Economy of Public Land Use,” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 22 (1997): 12, 23–24. 34 Supplied by Stan Tixier on review of a manuscript for a revised version of the Region 4 history. 35 Kaufman, The Forest Ranger; Leman, “The Forest Ranger Revisited,” 7. 36 Gardner, “The Political Economy of Public Land Use,” 22.

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processing the interviews. Thanks to Brigham Young University’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences for financial assistance. 1 See Commissioner of the General Land Office to Secretary of the Interior, from 1896 and 1897, Interior Department, Lands and Railroads Division, Letters Received, RG 48, National Archives, Washington, DC. 2 Brian Stout, interview by Andrea Radke-Moss, October 27, 1993, 9–10, U.S. Forest Service Oral History Project, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University (hereafter FS Oral History Project). 3 On Region 4 administration under Olsen and Iverson, see Thomas G. Alexander, The Rise of Multiple-Use Management in the Intermountain West: A History of Region 4 of the Forest Service (Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, 1987), 157–86. 4 Alexander, 169–73. 5 Herbert Kaufman, The Forest Ranger: A Study in Administrative Behavior (repr.; Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2006); Christopher K. Leman, “The Forest Ranger Revisited: Administrative Behavior in the U.S. Forest Service in the 1980’s” (paper, American Political Science Association, New York City, September 3–6, 1981), 7, copy in possession of Carl Pence, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson, Wyoming. 6 Leman, “The Forest Ranger Revisited,” 9. 7 Hugh C. Thompson, interview by Sondra Jones, November 23, 1993, 13, FS Oral History Project. 8 High Country News, January 20, 1997. 9 R. M. “Jim” Nelson, interview by Sondra Jones, Sparks, Nevada, December 7, 1993, 13, 23, FS Oral History Project. 10 Nelson, interview, 21–22. 11 George Olsen, interview by David Wilson, Ogden, Utah, November 12, 1992, 9, FS Oral History Project. 12 Olsen, interview, 8. 13 Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 1997. 14 High Country News, October 13, 1997. 15 High Country News, December 9, 1996; and Stan Tixier, review of a manuscript for a revised version of the Region 4 history. 16 High Country News, October 13, 1997; Public Law 104-134 (as amended 16 U.S.C. 4601–6a), as cited in https://www .fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/feedemo/projects 02/content2002.html (accessed September 23, 2019). Congress extended the law with Public Law 106-291. 17 Richard L. Knight, letter to the editor, High Country News, January 18, 1998.

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The Return of Uncertainty: Public Lands in an Increasingly Unpredictable World

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In October 2019, my campus at Sonoma State University experienced an epidemic of uncertainty. Repeating cycles of fire weather—high winds, low humidity, and warmer than usual temperature—triggered two massive public safety shutdowns of electricity across much of California, timed about two weeks apart. Both outages lasted for several days for most customers, and for some as long as a week or more. During the second shutdown, a wildfire already broken out in northern Sonoma County drove evacuations of nearly two hundred thousand residents, fearing a repeat of October 2017’s destructive Nuns and Tubbs fires or November 2018’s Camp fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in the Sierra foothills. Faculty, staff, and students from Sonoma State were among those who scrambled to get out of the potential fire’s path, ending up as farflung as San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Once the huge mobilization of firefighters from across the state got a handle on the Kincade blaze and our utility company PG&E began “reactivating” neighborhoods, we slowly returned to our homes and, as the anxiety levels subsided, resumed the fall semester. Many classes had missed at least two weeks of meeting times, and the disruption of repeatedly stopping and starting instruction so abruptly meant the loss of even more valuable in-class time; instructors found themselves needing to cut up to a quarter of the semester’s material from their syllabi, as well as to find ways of bringing their rattled students’ attention back to the course, all while maintaining academic integrity and rigor. And this was not the first time; for three years in a row now, October and November have brought campus closures due to wildfire and poor air quality from smoke. Looking forward, Sonoma State faculty and students are now reluctant to plan any conferences or special events during these months and are looking for strategies for adapting our syllabi to the “new normal” of not only a volatile and heightened fire danger in autumn, but also the new strategy of preemptive power blackouts to address that risk. With classes structured increasingly around online learning management systems and assigning pdfs to read instead of actual books, any power outage brings instruction to a screeching halt, often for days on end.

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Smoke plume of the Kincade fire, Sonoma County, California, on October 27, 2019. Copernicus Sentinel data, processed by Pierre Markuse.

As an environmental historian focused mainly on public lands in the American West, I am increasingly considering how unpredictability in the face of a changing climate is forcing us to adapt in ways we may not foresee. But I have also been thinking about the presumption of predictability—the astonishment of some of my neighbors and colleagues that shutting off electricity could be an acceptable solution to wildfire risk! Electricity has become almost as essential to modern life as water or oxygen, and its sudden removal seemed to some to be almost as severe a deprivation. And this presumption extends to many people’s sense of the natural world around them—that ecosystems ought to be stable through time, and that natural disasters like wildfires or floods are abnormal events that, if only we could find the “right” solutions, could be avoided with better management. It could be argued that our public safety shutdowns fit the definition of a “first-world problem” if ever there was one. Amitav Ghosh has

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observed that while “power failures, for instance, are so rare in advanced countries that they often cause great disruption . . . In many parts of the global south, breakdowns are a way of life, and everybody is used to improvisations and work-arounds.”1 This kind of predictability is also a historically specific assumption; as historian John McNeil has chronicled, across the twentieth century, especially post–World War II, the harnessing of fossil fuels and other technological innovations allowed many societies to expand beyond historical constraints on both growth and consumption.2 These accomplishments created an impression that greater certainty was actually possible, where our inventions and economic growth have made predictability seem “normal”—when really it has been highly abnormal for most of human history.3 Now climate change is bringing wider swings of unpredictability back into the mix; bigger swings than either our current infrastructure (hence shutting half of California’s grid down is a “better” solution than the risk of catastrophic wildfire), public policy and legal

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frameworks, or cultural expectations of certainty can accommodate.

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And the issue is not just wildfires in California, but wildfires exploding across the entire West. It is also more damaging hurricanes in the South,4 proliferations of white-tailed deer helping to spread Lyme disease in the Northeast,5 and sea level rise on all the coastlines.6 Similar increases in extreme events are breaking out across the globe, like the brushfires that, at the time of this writing, are torching a vast swath of Australia. In his new book on the politics of climate change, Bruno Latour writes about the collective sense of vertigo, or panic, that humans seem to be experiencing, “owing to the fact that the ground is giving way beneath everyone’s feet at once, as if we all felt attacked everywhere, in our habits and in our possessions.”7 Unpredictability is becoming increasingly predictable—and yet represents something of a challenge to much public lands management, which for the past hundred years has been heavily influenced by two flawed concepts: that the natural world has an innate stability and balance, and that the “true” nature exists separately from human influence. Uncertainty has not always seemed so unusual in nature. George Perkins Marsh, considered by many as the progenitor of conservation thought with publication of his book Man and Nature in 1864, expressed what David Lowenthal described as a “humbling awareness of uncertainty,” particularly contrasted with present-day attitudes: “Unlike most modern environmentalists, Marsh had come to terms with nature’s ‘baffling complexity, its inherent unpredictability, its daily turbulence.’”8 More recently, in 1990 biologist Daniel Botkin wrote that when looking at ecological evidence, “we find that nature undisturbed is not constant in form, structure, or proportion, but changes at every scale of time and space. The old idea of a static landscape, like a single musical chord sounded forever, must be abandoned, for such a landscape never existed except in our imagination.”9 Yet most scientists in the then–new field of ecology in the early twentieth century, such as Frederick Clements, while embracing Marsh’s idea of “man the disturbing agent,” abandoned the inherent uncertainty that Marsh saw in

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the natural world, describing nature instead as predictably transforming over time toward stable climax states. They also overlooked the previous presence, and wildly underestimated the influence, of native Americans and their land management practices; in part due to racist attitudes of the time, indigenous peoples were exempted from having been disturbing agents, and instead were presumed to be part of nature’s innate harmony.10 The metaphor of balance was written into the very definition of ecosystems in Eugene and Howard Odum’s classic textbook in the 1950s, Fundamentals of Ecology, used as a basic text for decades.11 And the first sentence of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which contributed greatly to the popularization of ecological concepts in the 1960s, reinforced the perceived stability of the natural world, introducing a town “in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings,” only to be blighted by the disappearance of birds due to DDT.12 While more recent ecologists such at Botkin have rejected the “balance of nature” notion, it remains remarkably persistent in general public attitudes about the environment. Similarly, the preservation movement, most represented by John Muir and enshrined in the 1916 establishment of the National Park Service, aimed at preserving landscapes for scenic enjoyment of generations to come, or fifty years later as wilderness areas, defined in 1964 as places “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”13 Preservationist attitudes presume that if the disturbing agents are removed from the picture, except as observers, nature will prevail harmoniously in perpetuity—just as Clements’ vision of plant succession inevitably led to climax states that, if undisturbed, would remain in place indefinitely. This “nature as stable balance, humans as disturbers” ethos also informs the 1970s-era laws and policies that govern U.S. public lands, written when this more simplistic—and static—conception of nature still held sway. A modern presumption of certainty underlies a huge number of decision-making processes that we take for granted, and increasingly can lead us astray. For example, in his essay “Climate and Capital,” historian Dipesh

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Similarly, species will increasingly be evolving in response to climate changes, such as shifting territories and/or adapting their behaviors, yet the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may have a hard time keeping up.18 This law, signed in 1973, takes a list-based approach to protecting ecosystems, listing species as threatened or endangered and barring “take” in various forms of harm. Yet the law, and its implementation through habitat conservation planning, has not adapted easily to a more landscape-based scale of management.19 Peter Alagona’s excellent book After the Grizzly chronicles how many rare species are already behaving in some unexpected ways—like endangered San Joaquin kit foxes maintaining a stable population in downtown Bakersfield, yet struggling in nearby protected areas. Alagona argues that most endangered species management relies on the presumption that protected areas offer the best value for science and conservation when maintained in their “original” condition, yet the results of this approach are mixed, in part because all protected areas are “legally bounded but ecologically porous.”20 A recent essay by Jack Ward Thomas, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service during the Clinton administration, finds that two decades of management for the northern spotted owl has “revealed problems with the underlying logic,” as the ESA did not include any recognition of the constant evolutionary pressures and processes that most species and ecosystems face.21

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Yet almost all public lands planning and associated environmental impacts analysis is also based on probabilities—on what likely outcomes of this or that action in the landscape might cause. The U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to complete environmental assessments (EAs) before taking any major action that might cause substantial impacts to the environment, including major planning documents; in cases where environmental impacts are considered likely, agencies are required to issue a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Choosing environmental baselines for any such analysis has always involved an element of arbitrariness, depending on the circumstances in which the baseline is determined—for example, the Colorado River Compact’s initial allocation of water rights in the 1920s happened during an unusually wet period, meaning the river’s output has been chronically overallocated ever since.16 NEPA was designed to require a “no action” alternative to establish a current-conditions baseline, yet that presumes that current conditions are stable and unchanging, and that environments will respond in predictable ways to changed circumstances. How can we write public lands management plans, and their associated NEPA compliance documents, when future western landscapes will be riddled with more and more unlikely events? Particularly because EISs also usually take years to complete—the Council on Environmental Quality’s recent analysis found an average time of four and a half years across all federal agencies.17 With such lengthy completion times, it is entirely possible that fast-changing circumstances and/or wide swings of variability could alter the environmental analysis between the start and end of the process—but this procedure-based law is not designed for a world full of

environmental uncertainty, so there is no mechanism for correction.

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Chakrabarty discusses how the dominance of probabilistic thinking in modern life inhibits economists’ and policy makers’ abilities to confront the uncertainties associated with climate change, which he describes as “inherently unknowable.”14 Similarly, Ghosh observes that 2012’s Hurricane Sandy “was an event of such a high degree of improbability that it confounded statistical weather-prediction models,” and because risk models are also based on probabilities, officials underestimated the threat and thus delayed emergency responses.15

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To avoid misinterpretation of this essay, I want to be clear: I am not advocating for abandoning any of these important laws. Instead, the challenge will be to interpret or amend these laws and policies to adjust to the changing environment—often changing in ways that cannot easily be foreseen by land managers or planners. In his most recent book, Botkin has come to a similar conclusion, arguing that major environmental laws that focus on species—he cites the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act—could be more effective “if they could take into account the non-steady-state character of nature.”22 I would add that laws requiring land management planning would also benefit from a more thorough reconciliation

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both of the inherent unpredictability of natural processes—particularly under the strain of climate change—and also the fact that, at least for the last ten thousand years on the American continents, nature and humans have never been as separate and distinct as has too frequently been presumed.

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And, of course, environmental history can help; useful lessons can be gleaned from an earlier era when certainty and predictability were far less of a reasonable expectation. The best environmental histories can remind us of nature’s unpredictability, and of the ways in which adapting to changing conditions in turn drives unexpected cultural shifts as well. For example, in Andrew Isenberg’s accounting of the Destruction of the Bison, everything is in flux—the Great Plains’ grassland environment was inherently volatile and dynamic, with wide swings in the location and volume of rainfall, game animals, and predators in a given year. After Europeans’ introduction of the horse, infectious diseases, and the fur trade, some native peoples adapted by becoming nomadic and increasingly dependent on bison hunting.23 Most of these shifts were driven by people’s attempts to overcome unpredictability, yet Isenberg argues that one can only see the

region’s history clearly with recognition of the inherent dynamism and instability of both the Plains ecosystem and the social systems interacting with it, in which societies adapted to uncertainty while at the same time driving further ecological and cultural changes. Similarly, my colleague Margaret Purser, a historical archeologist, describes many mid-late nineteenth-century western settlers as “boomsurfers,” actively migrating from one boom to the next and living opportunistically in an uncertain economic environment. Their ability to “surf” to new economic opportunities was entirely dependent on both adaptable materials and flexible social institutions.24 Purser argues that what may appear in the archeological record to be anachronistic attachment to older technologies (which could be more easily modified or repaired) or frequent relocation of settlements actually points to the “ubiquity of material impermanence as a deliberate strategy” to ameliorate uncertainty.25 For example, Purser’s excavations of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century river landings in the Sacramento River delta reveal farmers repeatedly rebuilt “brush landings,” consisting of a few wooden pilings with orchard prunings and other brushy material filled in behind. These structures

Lithograph of K Street in Sacramento, California, during the Great Flood of 1862. Published by A. Rosenfield in San Francisco.

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Public lands management increasingly needs to recognize not only the “naturalness” of change and unpredictability, but also of incorporating elements of the interdependence of humans and nature. Like their nineteenth-century counterparts, public lands lessees and their surrounding communities will likely need to “boomsurf” increasing environmental and economic instability in the coming decades more than ever—which is a poor fit with fixed and inflexible land management plans and lease terms. In my own work at Point Reyes National Seashore, I find that the resident ranchers

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As one part of unlearning the presumption of certainty that underlies many of the laws and policies currently in force, federal agencies should place greater emphasis on the direct involvement of local communities, and particularly native peoples, in land management planning and practice. People who live on—and depend on—the land itself often have a much longer view of its environmental variability than federal employees do. Especially in areas with high staff turnover, there is a tendency to presume that the way the landscape looks now is the way it has always been.28 Both the current international heritage management literature and U.S.-based discussions of public lands management emphasize the importance of including local voices and landscape knowledge into planning processes.29 While other parts of the world seem to have a stronger sense of traditional land uses “belonging” in protected areas, in the United States, private land uses, even fairly sustainable ones, tend to be assumed to be diametrically opposed to environmental preservation. Over twenty years have passed since historian Richard White identified the need to reexamine the connections between work and nature: “If environmentalists segregate work from nature, if they create a set of dualisms where work can only mean the absence of nature and nature can only mean human leisure, then both humans and non-humans will ultimately be the poorer.”30

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Yet many ideals about nature, heritage, and public lands in the United States, particularly in our national parks system, run in the opposite direction—we tend to value permanence and consistency over time, imagine nature as possessing an inherent balance and stability, and celebrate wilderness as pristine natural areas untouched by humans, except as visitors. The preservation ethos of keeping everything the same through time fundamentally does not fit a world of rampant unpredictability and is a relatively recent idea, one that presumes an ability to control change.27 In reality, maintaining or returning to some state of natural purity is simply an assertion of control—a kind of control that has always been only a veneer and never actually possible, but had been presumed based on the perceived stability of nature since the early twentieth century, and particularly in the postwar era. Increasing environmental uncertainty contributes to stripping that veneer away. We need to relearn from our past history how to expect the unexpected and be adaptive in our approach to the environment and our relationships with it.

within the park are, through an ongoing general management planning process, requesting greater flexibility to diversify their agricultural production, to be less dependent on the volatile dairy or beef markets, and better able to adapt their production to wet years or droughts. Yet many environmental advocates interpret these requests as expanding commercialization of parks or possibly threatening wildlife, while often turning a blind eye to the ways in which a hands-off management approach—by presuming that nature, left alone and without human interference, will naturally find its inherent balance—can actually exacerbate environmental problems, such as increasing fire risk or the spread of invasive species.

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would be washed away by each winter’s flood cycle but were cheap to reconstruct; investing in sturdier and more expensive materials meant facing a similar risk of washout at much greater cost. She emphasizes that “this impermanence had nothing to do with [a lack of ] intention to stay”; the same landing sites were used year after year by the same families, built adaptively to conform with the particular patterns of change along the river.26 By accepting impermanence and presuming that the unusual, the extreme, or the unpredictable would eventually come along, these settlers were able to persist in the face of environmental and economic variability.

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Both working agricultural landscapes, such as those I study at Point Reyes, and native peoples’ long histories of working with nature in

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Notes

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their traditional homelands underline the potential for human and natural coexistence in the face of uncertainty. The example set by the establishment of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument in 2016, which included two advisory committees—one comprised of local stakeholders including elected officials, land owners, recreation users, and other residents, including tribes; the other composed exclusively of members of five nearby tribal groups with deep connections to the landscape—is one that should be emulated going forward.31 We can no longer indulge our twentieth-century assumption that ecological sciences will provide predictability for public lands outcomes, and taking local communities’ knowledge and connection with public landscapes seriously can only help buffer their management in an increasingly uncertain world.

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Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 147. 2 J. R. McNeill, Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000). 3 Human history since 1945 has been recently described as “the most anomalous and unrepresentative period in the 200,000-year-long history of relations between our species and the biosphere,” see J. R. McNeill and Peter Engelke, The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014), 5. 4 Theodore Steinberg, “Do-It-Yourself Deathscape: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in South Florida,” Environmental History 2, no. 4 (1997): 414–38. 5 Bob Wilson, “From Noble Stag to Suburban Vermin: The Return of Deer to the Northeast United States,” in The American Environment Revisited: Environmental Historical Geographies of the United States, ed. Geoffrey L. Buckley and Yoland Youngs (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), 39–55. 6 Elizabeth Rush, Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2018). 7 Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climate Regime (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018), 8. 8 David Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 426, quoted from Donald Worster, The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 170. 9 Daniel B. Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 62. 10 Shepard Krech III, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999).

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11 Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin, The Environment: A History of the Idea (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), esp. chap. 4. 12 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1962), 1. 13 The Wilderness Act of 1964, Public Law 88–577, 88th Cong., 2d sess. (September 3, 1964). 14 Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Climate and Capital: On Conjoined Histories.” Critical Inquiry 41 (Autumn 2014): 6. 15 Ghosh, The Great Derangement, 25. 16 Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 209. 17 “Environmental Impact Statement Timelines (2010– 2017),” Council of Environmental Quality, December 14, 2018,https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads /2017/11/CEQ-EIS-Timelines-Report.pdf. 18 For details of the speed at which evolution can occur— much faster, particularly under changing conditions— than Darwin first identified, see Jonathan B. Losos, Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017), esp. chap. 4. 19 Laura A. Watt, Leigh Raymond, and Meryl L. Eschen, “On Preserving Ecological and Cultural Landscapes,” Environmental History 9, no. 4 (2004): 620–47. 20 Peter S. Alagona, After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California (Oakland: University of California Press, 2013), 8. 21 Jack Ward Thomas, “After Preservation—the Case of the Northern Spotted Owl,” in After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans, ed. Ben A. Minteer and Stephen J. Pyne (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 161. 22 Daniel B. Botkin, The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 342. 23 Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 24 Margaret Purser, “Boomtimes and Boomsurfers: Toward a Material Culture of Western Expansion,” in Historical Archeology through a Western Lens, ed. Mark Warner and Margaret Purser (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press and the Society for Historical Archeology, 2017), 3–31. 25 Purser, 20. 26 Purser, 14. 27 Laura Alice Watt, The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), esp. chap. 1. 28 Watt. 29 See Susan Charnley, Thomas E. Sheridan, and Gary P. Nabhan, eds., Stitching the West Back Together: Conservation of Working Landscapes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014). 30 Richard White, “‘Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?’: Work and Nature,” in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), 174. 31 See Jedediah Purdy, “The Shape of Public-Lands Law and Trump’s National Monument Proclamations,” forthcoming in Ecology Law Quarterly, for a larger discussion of the implications of the 2017 revocation of part of the Bears Ears National Monument.

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BE N JA MI N

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On February 13, 1932, Utah governor George H. Dern appeared in Washington, D.C. before the House Committee on the Public Lands in an effort to stave off an attempt to divest the federal government of the unreserved public domain in western states. Dern’s opposition to the proposal, which would transfer the public domain’s surface rights to the states, was clear. The governor testified that Utah could not adequately manage these lands and that, indeed, the state was not interested in accepting them. “Comes now the Government of the United States, tentatively offering us what looks at a distance like a fine, large horse,” said Dern in his opening remarks. “As we get closer we have some difficulty in discerning whether it is actually a fine, large horse, or a fine, large white elephant.”1 For Dern, it was the absence of mineral rights, the federal government’s ability to finance and oversee interstate range rehabilitation, and his ultimate goal of long-term conservation that turned a statutory gift horse into a legislative white elephant.2

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Bucking the White Elephant: Utah’s Fight for Federal Management of the Public Domain, 1923–1934

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Dern also dismissed notions that rampant overgrazing on the unreserved federal domain could best be mitigated through private control and laid out a case aimed at derailing the proposed transfer. Citing environmental disasters caused by mismanagement of private land in his state, he contended that “private ownership is not the answer to this problem of overgrazing.”3 Furthermore, the governor pointed to the potentially detrimental impact the bill might have on interstate watersheds, the antagonism of Utah stockmen toward the plan, and the possibility that a land transfer would also shift the cost of federal reclamation projects onto the states.4 Unlike some western politicians and ranchers of the time, Dern’s understanding of property favored constitutional federal authority over the definition of property usage that many ranchers held over the unreserved public domain.5 Dern’s interpretation of property allowed him

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to stake out a position where states could get the benefits of federal subsidization without management costs associated with actually holding title to the land.6 Furthermore, if states acquired the public domain, federal aid in the form of reclamation and highway funding would be jeopardized. As he asserted in the 1932 congressional hearings, “it is not necessary to own a piece of land in order to get the benefit of it. .  .  . Since the states already get the benefits derived from the public lands, it is pertinent to inquire how much better off they will be if the title and the responsibility and the management are turned over to them.”7 Yet despite defining property differently than many western cattle interests, Dern’s viewpoints were not anomalous. Other western politicians and even the president of the Utah Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association also raised their voices in opposition to the bill before Congress. Concerned that neither private nor state management could protect their economic interests, some of Utah’s most prominent cattlemen and agriculturalists argued for an increased federal role in range management.8 It may seem surprising that a governor from a state in which the federal government owns 66.5 percent of the land protested a federal effort to divest lands to the states. After all, nearly a half century later, many Utahns supported the Sagebrush Rebellion, a western effort to pressure the federal government into handing certain public lands to the states or at least to make federal land management more friendly to commercial or industrial interests.9 More recently, the Utah State Legislature passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act in 2012, which threatened legal action against the federal government if it did not acquiesce to the state’s demand for the cession of a large portion of the vast federal estate in Utah. Though the legislature never formally opened a lawsuit, it did hire an outside consulting group in 2014 to explore litigation.10 What may be even more surprising is that Dern was an avowed states’ rightist who had spoken up for western states multiple times in the six years preceding his 1932 testimony. The governor, in a 1926 address titled “School Land Titles in Public Land States,” given at the Governors’ Conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming, took the

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federal government to task about its failure to support education through its refusal to grant mineral rights on school trust lands.11 He further contrasted the exorbitant amount of federally owned land in the West with the scant public acreage of eastern states. Importantly, however, he clarified: “I trust I have made it clear that this fight is not to get all the public lands turned over to the states. . . . We simply want our title quieted and confirmed to the lands that were granted to us for the support of our schools and state institutions.”12 Three years later, in a speech denouncing the proposition to transfer the federal domain’s surface rights to the states, Dern once again echoed his states’ rights stance while lambasting the proposal to only transfer unwanted surface title. “I have been somewhat a contender for the rights of the states. However, that has not been a fetish with me. . . . I am therefore inclined to say we want the ‘whole hog or none.’”13 Dern later based his 1932 testimony off of this 1929 speech. Dern and his fellow Utahns’ opposition to the transfer of the federal domain during the 1920s and 1930s reveals a public lands heritage that is far more complex than a cursory study of the past forty years would suggest. At times it could be characterized more accurately as one of “sagebrush conservation”—a willingness to acquiesce to the federal government in the best interest of rangeland sustainability—rather than “sagebrush rebellion.” Utahns were active players in public lands debates, and while Dern and many of his contemporaries articulated an argument in favor of western states ownership of all public lands—subsurface lands included— they first advocated for increased regulation and management to avoid deteriorating rangeland conditions then plaguing both private and public lands in the state. In an era when the future of the public domain was uncertain, a combination of environmental, economic, and political factors motivated these sagebrush conservatives to buck the white elephant of political dogma and embrace a partnership with the federal government aimed at rehabilitating the West’s dilapidated unreserved lands. These included devastating floods caused in part by mismanagement of private range, the federal government’s refusal to turn surface rights over to the states, and the pressing need to conserve the federal range for future sustainable use. In the end,

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Dern and John M. Macfarlane, president of the Utah Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association, another Utahn who testified before the committee, had primarily environmental reasons for testifying, based in particular on two catastrophic floods that highlighted a private and local failure to properly manage the range.

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Dern’s appearance before the House Committee on the Public Lands was not a solitary stand against a policy personally abhorrent to the governor, but one emblematic of the larger public disposition toward the future of public land management in the American West.14 He gleaned his argument from eyewitness accounts of disastrous floods, environmental studies ascertaining flood causes, academic positions on range management, and the political will of agriculturalists and ranchers. His testimony, although only one of many given before the committee throughout the hearing period, reflected some Utahns’ acceptance of a greater federal footprint on the public domain through the institution of a regulatory range conservation program.

The first, and perhaps the deadliest to ever hit the Wasatch Front, occurred in 1923. On the night of August 13, a cloudburst storm struck the northern Wasatch Mountains from Davis County to Box Elder County. Cloudbursts, a term used in the early 1900s to describe “a torrential downpour of rain which by its spottiness and relatively high intensity suggests the bursting and discharge of a whole cloud at once,” were fairly common in Utah throughout the 1920s with five occurring along the Wasatch Front in 1923 alone.15 Hydrologists associated cloudbursts with late summer thunderstorms that developed over the mountains throughout Utah. Data from the early twentieth century in Utah also correlates the numerous cloudbursts with years of higher average temperatures.16 Though often causing substantial property damage, cloudbursts rarely resulted in deadly floods. Unfortunately for the small agricultural communities of Centerville, Farmington, and Willard, the storm of August 13 proved to be an exception to the norm. The rain began around 7:30 p.m., and within a half hour floodwaters began wreaking havoc on their way down the canyons. The flood reached a group of nine Boy Scouts camping at North Fork near Liberty in Ogden valley, inundating them with “a stream of water from three to five feet high and 500

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Governor Dern and his allies successfully defeated the land transfer bill, thus allowing other western leaders to guide the public domain’s trajectory during the advent of the New Deal.

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A house in Centerville, Utah, damaged by the August 1923 floods. Utah State Historical Society, George M. Ottinger Photograph Collection, box 2, no. 288.

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feet wide.” Luckily for the Scouts and their leader, the force of the water knocked their tents open, allowing them to struggle through the water toward safety.17

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In other locales the waters were not so forgiving. Floodwater and debris, including mud, boulders, uprooted trees, and brush, slammed into communities, especially Farmington and Willard. Farmington Canyon became a death trap as a wall of water with a crest reported “to be 75 to 100 feet high . . . with width of 200 feet” barreled toward town.18 In its path lay a honeymooning couple and another group of Boy Scouts who were immediately killed by the violent waters. After leaving the canyon, the torrent engulfed homes, livestock, roads, the Bamberger Interurban Railway, and a power plant, all the while sending patrons at Lagoon amusement park desperately running for shelter. Perhaps the most grisly headline of the night simply stated, “Woman’s Legs Discovered.” In Farmington, seven died, while a similar flood in Willard killed two. In less than an hour, rains produced enough water to shatter communities and take nine human lives.19 Aid began flowing to the affected communities shortly after the floods abated. On August 17, 1923, Governor Charles R. Mabey issued an executive proclamation calling for Utah citizens to “demonstrate their sympathy and affection for their stricken fellows by coming to their aid at once with that unbounded generosity so characteristic of our people.”20 To raise the $75,000 necessary to achieve relief, Mabey appointed a Flood Relief Committee to oversee the operation.21 In addition to the work of the relief committee, U.S. Forest Service examiner F. S. Baker and University of Utah professor J. H. Paul determined that recent fires were the primary factor in causing the severity of the August 13 flood. The aspen- and sagebrush-covered slopes of the canyons had been laid bare, causing a heightened potentiality of disastrous flooding. At the time, nothing was said of the effects of overgrazing.22 In time, Centerville, Farmington, and Willard eventually recovered from the flood’s destruction, but it would not be the last cloudburst to heavily impact the region. It was another cloudburst in July 1930 that, though not fatal to human life, proved to be a

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watershed moment for flood control studies in Utah and a factor that shaped Dern and his allies’ opposition to the 1932 land transfer bill. The 1930 flood primarily struck Farmington and Centerville in Davis County. It deposited trucksized boulders, destroyed a house and several farm buildings, blocked the main thoroughfare for eight days, and resulted in $50,000 in farm losses.23 Even though the flood primarily destroyed property, the Davis County Clipper likened the storm and its resultant floods to those of August 13, 1923.24 Yet the official response after the flood diverged noticeably from that of 1923. Rather than simply proclaiming the need for citizens to donate toward the cause of relief through the efforts of a relief committee, Mabey’s gubernatorial successor, George H. Dern, appointed a Special Flood Commission “to study the origin and cause of the floods, and to ascertain whether or not any flood prevention measures are feasible.”25 This was not the first time Dern reacted swiftly to environmental exigencies in Utah. In 1926, the governor toured the site of a catastrophic avalanche in Bingham Canyon and, in 1927, he visited Carbon County after a severe late summer flood.26 In his address to Price’s residents he affirmed, “Something can and must be done here about control of floods.”27 In response to the 1930 flood, Dern chose Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former Salt Lake City engineer Sylvester Q. Cannon to head the commission.28 Other members included professors, engineers, businessmen, and ranchers, with John M. Macfarlane, a prominent Utahn involved in many corporate boards and other local institutions, representing the Utah Horse and Cattle Growers’ Association. Dern’s special commission completed its work in a relatively quick four months and published its report in January 1931. The study identified preexisting flood control measures, assessed the causes of the destructive floods, and offered prescriptions for how to prevent flooding in the future. The commission spent two days in the field surveying the drainage basins affected by the Davis County floods and observing the condition of water catchment systems in surrounding canyons. The researchers devoted singular attention to the Davis County basins “where the situation [was] now the most critical.”29 Although flooding had occurred in the area prior

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After compiling the evidence, the commission determined that overgrazing, followed to a lesser degree by fire and timber cutting, in that order, was the primary factor in the July 1930 floods.32 The paucity of ground cover caused by overgrazing was particularly evident, leading the commission to identify “ample evidence on the watersheds of Davis County to show that had the plant cover been approximately equal to its original natural condition, the flooding in that section from the rains of 1930 would have been far less serious, if not prevented.” To prevent future catastrophe, the commission recommended the construction of additional flood control works, rehabilitation of plant cover in Davis County watersheds accomplished in part by a moratorium on grazing, and the institution of a more rigorous flood control policy including an extension of public ownership to unprotected watershed lands outside of the national forest. In addition, they observed that “the grazing land on the watershed which is largely under private control very apparently [had] been utilized without regard to perpetuating the range forage crop, a practice which is unsound from the standpoint of economical range livestock production.”33 In the words of commission member C. L. Horsley, “It is one of the worst cases of deforestation that I have ever seen.”34

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The commission also recommended specific flood prevention measures. Most notably, as their first recommendation, was the “public control of all the land .  .  . for the restoration and maintenance of an adequate plant cover and other flood prevention measures.” It also concluded that the federal government would “be able most economically to administer” the then privately held lands.36 While the matter of who controlled the lands proved to be the number one priority of the commission, it also recommended excluding grazing on the affected areas for a number of years, aiding in ground cover restoration, construction of flood control works, and establishing fire protection measures in the Davis County watersheds.

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Regardless of the rainfall amounts and steep topography, the depletion of plant cover from much of the canyons’ higher elevations proved to be the primary undoing for Davis County residents. In canyons where plant cover was plentiful, including grasses, trees, and shrubs, the torrential rains failed to remove the soil from the surface, ensuring that the land remained intact. At the heads of canyons where overgrazing had depleted plant cover, the rains cascaded down the steep slopes, carving up to forty feet of new depth into the canyons. The lack of absorption of water on these sparsely vegetated slopes caused flooding severity that had not been seen in previous years.31

A perfect storm had combined to decimate Davis County’s watersheds: torrential cloudbursts, steep topography, and, most important, the degradation of Davis watersheds through private mismanagement of grazing. Both cattle and sheep ranchers were to blame for the ill effects of overgrazing. The bovines chewed away the cover in the mountain basins and gentle slopes, while the sheep traversed the steeper vegetative zones in their quest for satiation.35

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to the floods of 1923 and 1930, never before had it battered the county with such ferocity, the result of unusually high amounts of rainfall, with 1.17 inches falling in the first hour of the 1923 storm and between 0.35 to 1.72 inches during the seven major cloudbursts of summer 1930. The steep topography of the Wasatch Range in Davis County was also included as a factor.30

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The commission did not stop there, however. They also advocated for a broader state policy that would ensure that what happened in 1923 and 1930 would not happen again anywhere in Utah. This statewide watershed protection plan echoed the commission’s commitment to implement government control over Utah’s watersheds. Once again, land ownership occupied the forefront of the commission’s recommendations: “1. The extension of public ownership and control to the little protected part of the 3,000,000 acres of important watershed lands outside the present National Forests [within state boundaries].” Some of these lands were forested while others were primarily grazing lands. Breaking their initial recommendation into two parts, the commission suggested “placing all important watershed lands in the State that are still in the open public domain under some adequate system of public control [and] acquisition by the State or Federal government of important watershed lands now in private ownership.”37 Following publication of the commission’s report, changes began to be implemented on Davis County’s watersheds. Within the next few years,

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Wasatch National Forest acquired $39,000 worth of private lands in Davis County. Once the land became part of the National Forest system, flood control works began in earnest. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began to reseed depleted areas and build contour trenches on the high Davis slopes. The trenches, which redirected water to allow revegetation on denuded slopes, can still be seen below the Wasatch ridgeline. Multiple floods followed in ensuing years, but the management strategies proved effective as the torrential mudflows of 1923 and 1930 were never again replicated.38 The 1930 flood and its respective causes was just one reason Dern and Macfarlane rallied in favor of federal management of Utah’s vast unreserved public estate. To fully understand the context behind their other reasons, and, in turn, the land transfer bill they were opposing, it is necessary to explore the condition of Utah’s public lands (both reserved and unreserved) in the decades preceding 1932. In the late nineteenth century, the executive and legislative branches began setting aside millions of acres of the previously unreserved public domain as forest reserves and national parks. Complicating the land withdrawal process further, the Antiquities Act of 1906 empowered the president to designate other federal lands as national monuments. Many ranchers and other rural residents of the West supported the reservation of national forests, parks, and monuments out of concern for rangeland degradation due to overgrazing and

watershed protection.39 In 1902, for instance, Albert Potter of the Department of Interior’s Division of Forestry conducted a detailed survey of the Wasatch Range and Plateau, documenting vast swaths of deforestation and denudation due to overgrazing and overcutting. Potter, as a contemporary of Gifford Pinchot, recommended the creation of forest reserves throughout the state as a means to mitigate past environmental abuses and to promote future conservation of forest resources. As a result of his coordinated efforts with Sanpete County locals, the federal government enacted regulations on the Wasatch Plateau.40 Sheep grazing was prohibited and, in May 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the area as the Manti Forest Reserve, which ultimately became part of the national forest system in 1907.41 With the creation of the United States Forest Service (USFS) in 1905, many western grazing lands fell under the purview of the new agency. Created not only to promote the utilitarian conservation of the nation’s timberlands but also the regulation of forested rangeland, the United States Forest Service was not free of controversy in its early years.42 Having been given the executive power of regulating grazing on the nation’s forests by 1910, the USFS focused much of its efforts on rehabilitating the range that fell under its purview.43 As the agency continued its often successful regulation for conservation into the 1920s, tensions deepened between ranchers and the Forest

Terrace-trench work by young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Davis County, Utah. Photo by U.S. Forest Service. Utah State Historical Society, photo no. 3436.

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Two concerned Utahns played instrumental roles in the public lands debates and in the ultimate fate of the 1932 transfer bill and its replacements. William Peterson, an agriculture professor at Utah State Agricultural College (UAC) in Logan and director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station (UAES), and

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Colton was an ardent conservationist, combining Progressive politics with his ranching experience. From increasing protections at Uintah County’s Dinosaur National Monument to introducing rangeland management bills, Colton used his congressional position to promote Utah’s public land interests. In 1927, while chairman of the Public Lands Committee and after consultation with Peterson, he introduced the first of many bills attempting to regulate the unreserved federal domain. The congressman’s aim was to institute grazing districts and supervisory boards that would issue leases for livestock grazing on the unappropriated public domain. Furthermore, a second bill would give the president authority to create grazing districts through executive proclamation. Although the bills faced local opposition at first, influential Utahns such as Macfarlane and Peterson supported them. Even Macfarlane’s Utah Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association rallied behind the bills. Other organizations, including the Utah State Woolgrowers and various homesteaders, continued to oppose the measures. After vigorous debate, Colton amended the language of his first bill to apply

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As the contest continued between forest managers, the Congress, lumber cutters, and the livestock industry, the unreserved lands were concurrently suffering the negative consequences of overgrazing and management gaps. Though the General Land Office (GLO), an agency housed in the Interior department, had been the historic manager of the unreserved domain, their primary purpose was survey and disposal, being the primary executor of the Homestead Act of 1862.45 Grazing management was not in the GLO’s program, as evidenced in the degraded state of large portions of the western range. For example, according to C. L. Forsling, the director of the Great Basin Experiment Station in Utah, one particular section of open range in Tooele County near the small mining outpost of Gold Hill exhibited heavy signs of overgrazing. In the space of twenty years, the erosion of overgrazed soils created a wash large enough for a vehicle to drive down it. On another portion of Utah’s unappropriated public range south of Garrison, unpalatable rabbitbrush encroached on valuable winterfat, starving out the cattle on the range.46 It became increasingly apparent to some Utahns that the situation on the public domain was unsustainable.47

Don B. Colton, a Republican representative from Utah’s First Congressional District, exemplified Progressive Era conservationists. Peterson, a rancher and farmer born in Bloomington, Idaho, received a BS in Commerce in 1899 and taught geology courses at the UAC for many years, even serving as Utah’s state geologist from 1917 to 1921. In 1918, he became director of the UAES. According to a 1930 issue of The Utah State Quarterly, “in the language of the street, ‘[Peterson] knows his public domain.’”48 Representative Colton regularly consulted Peterson throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s regarding the public domain. Born in Mona, Utah, in 1876, he and his family were among the first to take advantage of Indian land sales in eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin, ultimately settling in Vernal in 1879. Trained in law from the University of Michigan, Colton served in the Utah House in 1903 and the Utah Senate from 1915 to 1917. He was elected to represent Utah’s First Congressional District in 1920, a position he held until he was ousted by Franklin Roosevelt’s Democratic wave in 1932. From 1927 to 1931, Colton served as chairman of the House Committee on the Public Lands.49

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Service. In 1924, the Congress proposed dramatic fee increases of up to 100 percent in some forests. Cattlemen fought against the proposals and worked with the Forest Service to propose a study of the issue. Multiple attempts to raise fees failed between 1925 and 1929, yet ranchers continued to occupy a fraught position on the national forests as conservationists and lumbermen sought to restrict grazing access. As the policies of foresters alienated an increasing number of cattle growers, herdsmen who grazed livestock on the unreserved, unregulated public domain outside of the national forests were feeling another type of squeeze. This vast, unappropriated federal frontier became the central stage in the land debates that stretched into the 1930s.44

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only to the state of Utah due to Wyoming’s intense antagonism toward the proposal. However, the amendment was all for naught as both bills failed to gain enough traction to make it out of the House.50

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Colton continued to hold out hope for a legislative solution to the rangeland’s environmental woes despite his failure to find enough political traction to successfully organize grazing districts on the unreserved federal lands of the West. The election of Herbert Hoover provided an unconventional way for Colton to promote his ideas about public land management. In the August following his inauguration in 1929, Hoover sent a letter to be read at the Conference of Public Land States’ Governors in Salt Lake City. The letter’s message significantly diverged from the prevailing Progressive Era preference of federal land management: “It may be stated at once that our Western States have long since passed from their swaddling clothes and are today more competent to manage much of these affairs [public lands and reclamation] than is the Federal Government. Moreover, we must seek every opportunity to retard the expansion of Federal bureaucracy and to place our communities in control of their own destiny.”51 Hoover called for a new public lands committee to be formed to study how the government should move forward in divesting some of its federal estate to the public lands states. Although Hoover articulated a public lands position incongruent to Colton’s plan of increased federal control, the congressman welcomed the creation of the president’s proposed committee.52 He reasoned: “The control of these lands becomes vital from two or three angles: Many of our irrigation reservoirs are being filled with silt. There is an ever-growing problem which affects the livestock industry. The ranges surrounding the headwaters of our streams are being overgrazed. The vegetation is being destroyed. Our grazing lands are being ruined.”53 Colton understood the environmental exigencies on the range and saw the committee as an opportunity to investigate ways to mitigate these negative impacts. Hoover, on the other hand, saw this as an opportunity to promote states’ rights. Though both members of the “Grand Old Party,” their diverging rationales behind the formation of the committee

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highlight the variety of public lands positions existent among Republicans in 1929. Unlike in his previous legislative endeavors, Colton proved successful in securing appropriations for the new committee. On April 10, 1930, Congress approved “An Act Authorizing the President to appoint a commission to study and report on the conservation and administration of the public domain.”54 Officially dubbed the Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain, it became known as the Garfield Committee after the appointment as chair of James R. Garfield, the son of the late president and the former Interior secretary under Theodore Roosevelt. Sitting secretaries Ray Lyman Wilbur of the Interior and Arthur M. Hyde of Agriculture were designated ex officio members; former USFS chief W. B. Greeley, Saturday Evening Post editor George H. Lorimer, and Reclamation commissioner Elwood Mead also sat on the commission. Included were a representative from each of the public lands states, Utah’s being none other than Professor William Peterson, Colton’s ardent ally in the public lands debate.55 The committee quickly went to work, requesting information on each state’s position in regards to public lands. They also received reports from the Office of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Public Roads, USFS, Bureau of Reclamation, GLO, United States Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, and even library and school associations.56 Peterson, though already familiar with many Utahns’ favorable position toward federal management from his work with Representative Colton, engaged many stakeholders to determine what his position should be on Hoover’s land proposal. One of Peterson’s chief contacts was John Macfarlane. Macfarlane provided Peterson with a copy of resolutions passed at the Twelfth Annual Convention of the Utah Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association held in Salt Lake City, April 4–5, 1930. The convention passed multiple resolutions regarding the public domain including one that supported the creation of the Garfield Committee. The herdsmen also opposed “vast areas of our public grazing land being converted into public parks, monuments, or Indian reserves, or pleasure resorts where the same is not necessary.” Yet the

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Peterson’s final report to the Garfield Committee, drawing upon his extensive research, rejected the Hoover proposal, instead calling for federal management of the unreserved public domain. Peterson feared the potentially negative consequences associated with state management of the unappropriated lands. He recognized that the valuable lands of the state had already been homesteaded or reserved as forests, parks, and monuments, and that Utah’s arid climate ensured that only “some of the public land in the state has good grazing value, but on the average it is very low.”60 Hearkening back to ideas originating with John Wesley Powell, Peterson explained that though land is abundant in Utah, “water is the limiting factor.”61 Due to its arid geography, Utah’s unreserved domain held a relatively low carrying capacity for both agriculture and ranching. Exacerbating the strain on the state’s rangelands was the fact that grazing had occurred to capacity in the state since 1895, leading to vast areas of overgrazed land. Sheep were especially taxing on the range; some areas succumbed to the intense foraging patterns of hundreds of thousands of sheep.62

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As part of his research, Peterson looked at local efforts asking for government intervention on Utah’s range. One 1929 petition to Representative Elmer O. Leatherwood of Utah’s Second Congressional District identified private lands east of Provo that had been significantly overgrazed. The petitioners argued that mismanagement of these lands threatened Provo with dangerous floods and soil erosion. The petition, which was signed by the mayors of Provo and Springville, requested that Uinta National Forest acquire the lands to ensure watershed protection.58 Peterson also analyzed a proposed bill written by a Utah committee for federal control of grazing. Much like the 1928 Colton bill, the proposal advocated for the institution of grazing districts and local boards to govern the leasing of the unreserved public domain. Though it remains unclear, this may be the proposition from which Colton structured his land management bill.59

In crafting his argument for federal management of the unreserved domain, Peterson drew upon his local experience with the deleterious effects of overgrazing to illustrate his point. He framed his reasoning by looking at the creation of forest reserves thirty years earlier. To Peterson, it seems, how the forests came under federal regulation was similar to how he envisioned the unreserved domain should be placed under federal oversight: a concerted, local response to environmental exigency. On the Bear River Range, the creation of a forest reserve had come about following Potter’s survey and local action decrying a denuded landscape prone to flooding. Peterson reflected that although many ranchers were initially unhappy with the institution of range regulation, “cattle men and sheep men [thought] that probably the right thing was done with the grazing area.”63 Citing the cases of Logan and Manti as evidence, Peterson argued that Utahns preferred USFS management of watersheds and proposed that unreserved watershed lands be placed under the supervision of the national forests.64 To Peterson, the forests provided the answer, not only in how to craft a federal response to a local crisis, but also how to fix the problem of the unreserved domain into the future.

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resolution that shaped Peterson’s final proposal to the committee was concurrent to Colton’s previous efforts: “RESOLVED that we endorse government control of the public domain in the Western States, under similar regulations as is now in force in the National Forests.”57

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In concluding his report to the Garfield Committee, Peterson outlined, based on his studies, “the attitude of Utah with reference to the public domain.” He provided seven requests, among them the “federal administration of the unappropriated and unreserved 25,147,867 acres in Utah” and “the administration of the forest grazing and grazing on the public domain .  .  . under the same federal administration.”65 These recommendations elevated the USFS as the best potential custodian of the unreserved grazing lands. Furthermore, Peterson identified specific grazing recommendations that would benefit ranchers: longterm allotments to ensure dependability for ranchers, a range maintenance and rehabilitation program, the construction of water holes to retain the region’s inconsistent precipitation, a system of year-round permits that efficiently regulated summer and winter grazing, range experimentation that determined best practices for rehabilitation, and permits that allowed for grazing on lands where subsurface minerals existed.66

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Peterson’s recommendations not only reflected the interests of ranchers, politicians, and some citizens of Utah, but also his belief in the proper management of natural resources as embraced by mainstream adherents to the conservation movement. Peterson fit the mold of the utilitarian conservationist portrayed in Samuel Hays’s Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, a promoter of “planning, foresight, and conscious purpose.”67 Underlying his reasoning behind expanding federal control of the unreserved lands in the West, especially those in relation to grazing, was an ideology of efficiency and proper management, both hallmarks of early twentieth-century Progressivism. He was a committed disciple to the idea, as expressed by Hays, that “federal land management agencies should resolve land use difference among livestock, wildlife, irrigation, recreation, and settler groups.”68 Trust in centralized institutions like the federal government to expertly administer its landholdings is evident in Peterson’s subtext. His advocacy of scientific rehabilitation of the range was simultaneously progressive and indicative of Peterson’s position as an agricultural academic. Despite Peterson’s qualifications, thorough study, and persuasive argumentation for increasing federal regulation of the public domain, the committee ultimately chose to follow the president’s initial recommendation. Though the final product of the Garfield Committee matched closely Hoover’s initial proposition, Peterson was not the only member to diverge from the president’s recommendations. The representatives from California, Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho all opposed the land transfer under the president’s conditions. Elwood Mead, the renowned champion of western reclamation, expressed that in California the “consensus of opinion . . . is that the state would regard the transfer of the surface rights . . . to the state as requiring it to assume a responsibility rather than to obtain any direct financial advantage.”69 Oregon’s representative, E. C. Van Petten, clearly articulated his state’s rejection of the Hoover proposal on the grounds that Oregonians would only want the lands if the federal government had first rehabilitated them. The possibility that Oregon’s ownership of the lands could add unnecessary burden to the state’s already strapped budgets also dissuaded him.70 George Malone, Nevada’s state engineer and representative from Nevada on the Garfield

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Committee, felt similarly. After lengthy consultation with Nevada’s ranchers, Malone determined that they “could not afford to purchase their grazing ranges outright and did not stand to benefit in any way from state control of public lands.”71 Therefore, Malone’s fear of the negative effects of potential privatization of the range induced him to support the status quo of federal management.72 Some citizens of Idaho were also not on board with Hoover, believing “it would be an imposition and a burden on the State to take those lands without compensatory returns.”73 Many other states favored the proposal, at least in part. The controversial part of the Hoover recommendation remained the exclusion of subsurface mineral rights from the transfer package. The committee members from New Mexico, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado all favored parts of the proposal. New Mexico’s representative, Francis Wilson, signaled his state’s favorable attitude toward land transferal, including a letter from New Mexico cattlemen offering their support for state control. However, they advocated for both surface and subsurface rights to be transferred to the state.74 In Washington, there was divided opinion on the proper course for managing unreserved land, but Ross K. Tiffany, the state’s proxy on the Garfield Committee, personally believed that the federal government should cede the land to the states.75 Montana concurred with New Mexico, arguing that mineral rights should remain with the surface rights, but desiring state control overall.76 Colorado also was in favor of a combined surface and subsurface cession to the states.77 Wyoming, unsurprisingly considering its strong opposition to Colton’s bill in 1928, was completely behind the Hoover proposal but desired subsurface rights as well to ensure its own self-determination.78 Though the exact process behind the Garfield Committee’s final recommendation is not recorded in William Peterson’s files, the end result is well documented. They published their official suggestions in Report of the Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain in January 1931.79 The committee proposed, as a general principle, that the unreserved federal domain should be responsibly administered “for the conservation and beneficial use of its resources.” While certain designated

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The committee also included some of Peterson’s progressive recommendations, including the provision that any lands granted to the states should be “impressed with a trust for administration and rehabilitation of the public domain” and that the interests of stockmen should be preserved through a year-round permit system that made best use of the range. But in one of its final suggestions, the committee revealed its true colors: “It is the conclusion of the committee that as to agricultural and grazing lands, private ownership, except as to such areas as may be advisable or necessary for public use, should be the objective in the final use and disposition of the public domain.”82 Under this recommendation, all of the Garfield Committee’s previous proposals could be interpreted as potential methods to forsake the unappropriated, unreserved public domain to private hands, a policy consistent with GLO practice since its creation. Shortly after publication of the report, the committee began to receive feedback from a variety of interests from across the West. Opinion was

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On the surface, the committee’s general policy recommendations appeared modest. However, considering the pushback from western states regarding the detachment of subsurface rights from surface rights, for even Hoover’s most ardent allies the recommendations fell significantly short in reforming the management of the public domain. Furthermore, the Garfield Committee included a number of special recommendations. Those with the most impactful ramifications for western states suggested that Congress grant the unreserved domain to the states if the states signified a statutory desire for those lands and that if states were uninterested in accepting the unreserved domain, then the president would have power to create a national range from that state’s unaccepted lands.81

mixed on their recommendations, with some westerners resoundingly against the proposals and others in wholehearted agreement. Those in opposition were particularly pointed in their remarks. In April 1931, Charles Donnelly, president of the Northern Pacific Railway Company, adamantly rejected the committee’s conclusions. He contended that the “transfer of title to the States . . . would be of such doubtful advantage to all concerned as to make retention of title by the United States much more desirable. We think the administration of the public lands should be continued in the Interior Department . . . to put into effect leasing regulations supported by well-considered grazing research and range improvements.” Four days later, Horace Dunbar, vice president of Citizens National Trust and Savings Bank of Los Angeles, wrote: “I would much rather trust our remaining public domain to National rather than State sovereignty. . . . I favor leaving to Congress and an aroused National consciousness of proprietorship and responsibility the care of our lands, however valueless our limitations of today may label them, rather than to turn them over to the dangers and temptations of state control.”83 Though Dunbar did not specify what “dangers and temptations” state control could pose on the public domain, it can reasonably be assessed that part of that fear stemmed from the committee’s outright endorsement of privatizing the unappropriated domain.

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lands should continue to be held and managed by the federal government, it proposed that unreserved lands used for grazing “should be granted to the States which will accept them” or that some other “responsible administration or regulation should be provided.” With regard to subsurface rights, the committee determined that the federal government will hold them until the states and federal agencies can agree on a uniform plan of management.80

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The committee’s suggestions ultimately achieved statutory embodiment despite the cries of opponents. Committee member W. B. Greeley refused to sign the report, and others did so reluctantly.84 Regardless of the obvious lack of unanimity, the committee passed the report and sent it to the president and Congress. Senator Gerald P. Nye, R-ND, and Representative John M. Evans, D-MT, introduced H.R. 5840 based on the committee’s report in their respective houses.85 The bill faced an uphill climb from the start. Evans, chairman of the House Committee on the Public Lands from 1931 to 1932, led the hearings on H.R. 5840 from February 13 to April 5, 1932. The first to appear before the House committee was none other than Utah’s governor, George H. Dern, who set the tenor for how the hearings would play out: impassioned opposition to the bill from western states leaders. His objections to H.R. 5840 centered on the bill’s failure to

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relinquish subsurface rights to the state, the dilapidated state of the unreserved federal lands in Utah, the extreme environmental consequences Utah had experienced in recent years from mismanagement of private lands, the interstate nature of watershed boundaries, and his fear of eventual privatization of the public domain.86 Prominent Utah ranchers legitimized Dern’s testimony. As part of his testimony, he submitted a series of letters from an assortment of ranchers and agriculturalists throughout the state, including John M. Macfarlane and Charles Redd. Redd, head of one of Utah’s most successful ranching families, argued against state control, insisting “with the State administration of the range we would have all the evils of a second Federal bureau, plus the difficulties over State lines, as well as the uncertainty of policies resultant from changing political administrations. .  .  . A definite stand for control by the Forest Service is the proper move at this time.”87 Macfarlane clearly articulated a stance, similar to William Peterson, favorable to USFS management of the unreserved domain.

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Furthermore, Macfarlane concurred with Governor Dern: “As to the States taking over the public domain and making grazing districts of it, I am opposed to this action. Grazing districts do not conform to state lines and with each State setting up different systems of control, I feel it would be a serious handicap to the livestock industry. The public ranges need rehabilitation and proper supervision and I do not think the States have the money nor the experience to do this.”88 When he later addressed the committee in person, Macfarlane succinctly argued against the Evans bill, stating that mismanagement of private lands had caused devastating floods in northern Utah, that interstate watersheds could not be effectively managed by states, that state boundaries do not adhere to grazing sections, that coordination of summer and winter ranges is more effective under one federal bureau, that the federal government is more equipped to train a professional staff, and that conservation is best left in the hands of federal entities. In closing, Macfarlane invoked classic Progressive Era conservation rhetoric: “We believe that we ought to conserve [the range] for the generations to come. Those are the reasons why Utah thoroughly indorses control of the public domain by the Federal Government.”89 The most notable opponent of the bill was none other than Gifford Pinchot, the first chief forester of the U.S. Forest Service. Though governor of Pennsylvania in 1932, Pinchot still made his voice heard in the debates over national conservation. Most abhorrent to Pinchot was the bill’s proposal to allow a special committee to determine whether lands within national forests should be reevaluated to determine if they fit the Forest Service’s guiding policies, and, therefore, stripped from USFS management if they did not. Furthermore, he was also opposed to state management of the unreserved domain, instead arguing for USFS control of those lands. Concurring with Dern and Macfarlane, Pinchot contended that grazing was inherently an interstate issue, and, therefore, must be managed federally.90

An undated photo of George Dern on horseback. As Utah governor Dern agitated for states’ rights when it came to natural resource use, but rather than accept the surface rights to the public domain as offered by the Hoover administration, he promoted federal rangeland regulation. Utah State Historical Society, photo no. 12114.

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As the two final testimonies against the bill, Macfarlane and Pinchot’s speeches must have had some staying power with representatives on the committee. Following the hearings, the committee decided to drop the bill due to the

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Colton’s work was not permanently defeated, however. Democratic Representative Edward T. Taylor of Colorado resurrected the Colton bill in 1933. Taylor added some changes to Colton’s initial statute, yet much of the text was directly lifted from the previous bill.95 In fact, one “head of the Grazing Service noted, ‘Except for the intervention of an election, the [Taylor Grazing Act] would now be known as the Colton Act.’”96 Initially a staunch advocate for homesteaders and an enemy toward attempts to implement regulation on the unreserved domain, Taylor had since shifted to favoring federal grazing controls.97 Following months of robust debate, Taylor proved successful in passing his bill in 1934 after garnering support from the secretaries of Agriculture

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The passage of the Taylor Grazing Act may have been impossible without the groundwork performed by Utah’s ranchers and politicians. Governor George Dern and John M. Macfarlane combined their efforts to successfully defy the Garfield Committee’s recommendation to divest federal control of the public domain to the states. Contrary to contemporary popular perception of Utah’s heritage as sagebrush rebels, Utah politicians and ranchers in the 1920s and early 1930s were sagebrush conservationists, arguing for increased federal management of the rangeland. Not only did Utahns help defeat the transferal bill in Congress, Don Colton, a Utah congressman, was the original mind behind the foundations of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Twelve years after the passage of that bill, the United States Grazing Service merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the largest landholder in the West. Antipathy toward the BLM runs deep in contemporary Utah and the West as rhetorical and sometimes physical (in the case of a protest in Moab in 1980, and more recently the Bundy standoff in 2014) battles are waged between politicians, ranchers, and federal land managers. Yet many Utahns and westerners more generally have forgotten or are unaware of the broad support for federal ownership of public lands and cooperation with federal agencies in the management of those lands in the early twentieth century. Without the efforts of Utahns like George Dern, John M. Macfarlane, William Peterson, and Don Colton the federal landscape in the West would likely not resemble what it is today. Utahns, not distant Washington bureaucrats, are largely responsible for implementing a program of federal regulation that continues in the West to this day.

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Utah’s role in the public land debates did not end with the successful defeat of the Evans bill. Representative Colton, in his role as a member of the Committee on the Public Lands, introduced another land bill that ran concurrent to the Garfield Committee bill. With public opinion clearly galvanized against efforts to convey federal lands to the states, Colton reawakened his proposal to organize the unreserved federal domain into “locally controlled, but federally owned grazing districts.”92 Fortunately for Colton, public opinion among ranchers became more favorable toward federal management as time passed. Much of the West had entered a drought in 1934 that further exacerbated the poor condition of the nation’s unreserved rangeland.93 The situation was, indeed, dire for livestock growers. John Evans, Colton’s committee colleague, worked with Colton to successfully move the legislation through the House; however, the bill languished in the Senate. Unfortunately for the Republican Colton, his time had run out. As part of the Roosevelt wave, Democrats swept Republicans, including Colton, out of Congress in 1932. His bill, left in limbo, never made its way out of the Senate.94

and Interior, conservationists, ranchers, and western politicians. The process of organizing the unreserved, unappropriated public domain of the West into grazing districts administered by the newly created United States Grazing Service was set to begin.

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opposition expressed toward it. As E. Louise Peffer observed, “Perhaps no more universally unpopular public land bill had ever been introduced in Congress.”91 Public opinion had coalesced behind the effort to defeat the bill. The Hoover proposal to divest the unreserved domain to the states, after three years of study and congressional debate, was dead.

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Notes 1

Clyde A. Milner II, Anne M. Butler, and David Rich Lewis, eds., Major Problems in the History of the American West, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 488.

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Hearings before the Committee on the Public Lands, House of Representatives, Granting Remaining Unreserved Public Lands to the States, 29, Hathi Trust, accessed November 17, 2017, https://babel.hathitrust.org /cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015023182515;view=2up;seq=1. Milner et al. reproduced this part of this transcript in their edited volume. Hearings, 27. Hearings, 28. For Dern’s concerns about federal reclamation, see Milner et al., Major Problems, 490. Karen R. Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning: Ranchers, the Government, and the Property between Them (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 1–15. Merrill centers the conflict between ranchers and federal land managers on their divergence in defining property. While land managers emphasized constitutional and executive authority, ranchers pointed to use as a central function of property rights. Merrill further argues that these battles became more inflamed after the institution of regulation under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. Hearings, 19. Milner et al., Major Problems, 490. Letters from ten Utah ranchers and agriculturalists were added to the end of Dern’s testimony. See “Hearings,” 29–37. For more on the Sagebrush Rebellion in Utah, see Jedediah S. Rogers, “The Volatile Sagebrush Rebellion,” in Utah in the Twentieth Century, ed. Brian Q. Cannon and Jessie L. Embry (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2009), 367–84. Dennis Romboy, “Utah Poised to Lead Another Sagebrush Rebellion over Federal Land,” Deseret News, March 4, 2012, https://www.deseretnews.com/article /865551474/Utah-poised-to-lead-another-Sagebrush -Rebellion.html. George Henry Dern, School Land Titles in Public Land States: Address of Governor George H. Dern of Utah before the Governors’ Conference, 1926, copy at J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City (hereafter JWML). Dern focused much of his angst on a technical rule that stated that a state’s title to school lands did not attach until after being surveyed. As a result of Dern’s efforts, Congress passed the Jones Act of 1927 which conferred mineral rights on state school lands to the states. For more on this, see Charles S. Peterson and Brian Q. Cannon, The Awkward State of Utah: Coming of Age in the Nation, 1896–1945 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015), 246–47. Dern, School Land Titles, 2–3, 27. George Henry Dern, Public Land Policies, 1929, 14, copy at JWML. While many historians have engaged with Dern and the Garfield Committee in their analysis of the evolution of western lands policy in the early twentieth century, this work focuses on how Utahns—in particularly Dern, William Peterson, John Macfarlane, and Don Colton—held a nuanced perspective on land management that played a significant role in derailing the Garfield Committee’s recommendations. This article also explores seldom evaluated environmental factors that weighed upon Dern and his contemporaries to oppose the proposed land transfer. In reference to the same period, Leisl Carr Childers discusses the Garfield committee and Nevada’s reaction against the land transfer bill in Leisl Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories

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of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015). Carr Childers contrasts her work as a Great Basin history to Merrill’s argument in Public Lands and Political Meaning. Carr Childers contends that Merrill’s assertion that the Hoover proposal represented a western shift toward states’ rights was untrue in the context of the Great Basin (Nevada, Utah, and Idaho) states’ position that surface rights alone were unsuitable for state management and could be especially harmful to Great Basin ranchers. This article argues that Dern and his Utahn colleagues occupied a middle ground recognizing the importance of states’ rights while simultaneously pushing for a federal solution to the problem of the unreserved public domain. Ralf R. Woolley, Cloudburst Floods in Northern Utah, 1850–1938 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1946), iii, 107. Woolley, 36–42, 59–61. Al Warden, “Ogden Boys Escape Death in Torrents,” Ogden Standard Examiner, August 14, 1923. Woolley, Cloudburst Floods, 107. “Cloudburst Death Toll Mounts, Mangled Bodies Found in Debris; Scouts Victims,” Ogden Standard Examiner, August 14, 1923; Floyd A. Zimmerman, “Ogden Honeymooners Missing in Deluge,” Ogden Standard Examiner, August 14, 1923; “Terrible Torrents Deal Death and Desolation,” Davis County Clipper, August 17, 1923; “Cloudburst Causes Disastrous Flood,” Box Elder News, August 14, 1923. “Proclamation by the Governor Asking Aid for Storm Sufferers,” Davis County Clipper, August 17, 1923. Among the commission members was Utah business magnate Mariner S. Eccles. “Forest Examiner Gives Version Cause of Flood,” Davis County Clipper, August 31, 1923. Baker studied the sediment found in the flood residues and compared it to the sediment found in the fire-stricken portions of the drainages, finding an inexplicable match. Woolley, Cloudburst Floods, 112. “Heavy Rains in the Mountains Cause Damage So. of Co. Seat,” Davis County Clipper, July 11, 1930. Special Flood Commission, Torrential Floods in Northern Utah, 1930 (Logan: Agricultural Experiment Station, 1931), 5. Peterson and Cannon, Awkward State of Utah, 247–48. “Governor Dern Sees Price’s Flood Firsthand, Bees Furnish Omen to Utah’s Chief Executive,” News-Advocate (Carbon County, UT), September 16, 1927. Thomas Alexander casts Cannon’s environmental contributions as indicative of a religious and civic desire to conserve and beautify the natural world for the benefit of current and future generations of Utahns. See Alexander’s “Sylvester Q. Cannon and the Revival of Environmental Consciousness in the Mormon Community,” Environmental History 3 (October 1998): 488–507. Special Flood Commission, Torrential Floods, 6, 7. Special Flood Commission, 31–34. Special Flood Commission, 34–42. Woolley in Cloudburst Floods counters the argument that the denudation of plant cover by overgrazing had an especially large impact on flooding in Utah during this period. He stresses the physiographic and climatic nature of the state to contend that cloudbursts have always caused large floods in the state and that the increase in population in flood zones has led to a larger impact on human life and livelihood.

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threatened to shift dramatically during the latter half of the 1920s. Carr Childers, Size of the Risk, 18–19, outlines one of the most prominent disposal acts to appear in the first three decades of the twentieth century, the StockRaising Homestead Act of 1916, which created the possibility of substituting ranching for farming if it led to private land ownership. See also Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 28, 67–76. C. L. Forsling, “Memorandum Report on the Desert Winter Range of West Central Utah and Eastern Nevada,” box 7, fd. 6, USU 18:17, USUSCA. “Hearings,” 26. Dern quotes two Utahns who were particularly alert to the degradation of Utah’s public domain. The first, William Bailey, former chairman of the State Board of Equalization, stated “the lands are being rapidly devastated and ruined by overgrazing” and “the public range is being depleted and it would seem almost, if not completely, ruined for many years to come at least.” Another, John Schmutz, citizen of St. George, said he had “raised cattle on the public domain for 40 years” and “that today it does not produce more than 10 per cent of what it produced 40 years ago.” George Stewart, “William Peterson—An Appreciation,” Utah State Quarterly 6, no. 3 (February 1930): 3. For an alumni association story on Peterson, see Utah Agricultural College, “1909 A. C. U. Graduate Yearbook Graduates,” 176, USU Digital Exhibits, accessed December 5, 2017, http://exhibits.usu.edu/items/show/13945. “Don B. Colton, LDS Official, Ex-Solon, Dies,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 1, 1951. “Thinks Government Should Aid Monument,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 22, 1926; “Colton Introduces Bill on Grazing Land Leases,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 13, 1928; John Bristol, “Colton Grazing Bills Meet Opposition,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 6, 1928; “Colton Bill May Be Restricted,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 13, 1928. For Colton’s correspondence with both William Peterson and John Macfarlane concerning the bills, see “C-D,” box 9, fd. 2, USU 18:17, USUSCA. Peffer, The Closing of the Public Domain, 203. Originally cited in 71 Cong. Rec. 3570–71 (1929). “Colton Sponsors Public Lands Expense Bill,” Salt Lake Telegram, December 3, 1929. For more on the nuance of Republican Party positions in the state of Utah during the 1920s and 1930s, see Peterson and Cannon, Awkward State of Utah, 242–50. Colton actually refused to support the Republican gubernatorial incumbent Charles Mabey in his failed reelection bid against Democrat George Dern in 1924. Peffer, The Closing of the Public Domain, 203–4. Originally cited in 71 Cong. Rec. 408 (1929–30). Stat. 153, chapter 127, 71st Congress, 2d session (1930). Report of the Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain, January, 1931 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1931), ii, accessed December 8, 2017, https://babel.hathitrust.org /cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015028157611;view=1up;seq=1. Box 6–8, USU 18:17, USUSCA. These documents can be found in William Peterson’s files. As a member of the committee, Peterson received copies of all major reports sent to the Garfield Committee. “Utah Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association,” box 8, fd. 4, USU 18:17, USUSCA. “Petition to E. O. Leatherwood, 2nd Congressional District, to include area above Provo in Uinta National

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32 Special Flood Commission, Torrential Floods, 42. 33 Special Flood Commission, 7, 8–9, 43. Woolley, Cloudburst Floods, 14, contends that the original natural condition did not diverge notably from the plant cover that was on the range when the floods occurred in 1930. Woolley came to this conclusion using historical accounts running back to 1540. 34 “Overgrazing Given as Main Reason for Centerville Floods,” Davis County Clipper, September 19, 1930. 35 The report is unclear on the extent of timber cutting on the area, though the researchers do say that settlers did use conifers in the canyons until the 1910s. 36 Special Flood Commission, Torrential Floods, 19, 22. 37 Special Flood Commission, 25. 38 More on the implementation of the commission’s recommendations is in Thomas G. Alexander, The Rise of Multiple-Use Management in the Intermountain West: A History of Region 4 of the Forest Service (Washington DC: U.S. Forest Service, 1987), 105–6; Charles S. Peterson and Linda E. Speth, “A History of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest,” Wasatch-Cache National Forest, September, 25, 1980, 235–39, accessed July 8, 2019, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS /stelprdb5053310.pdf; George W. Craddock, “Floods Controlled on Davis County Watersheds,” Journal of Forestry 58 (April 1960): 291–93. 39 For a Utah example of this rural support for park creation, see Betsy Gaines Quammen, “American Zion: Mormon Culture and the Creation of a National Park,” in The Earth Will Appear as the Garden of Eden: Essays on Mormon Environmental History, ed. Jedediah S. Rogers and Matthew C. Godfrey (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2019), 131–51. 40 “Peterson, William, representative from Utah, report,” 8, box 6, fd. 32, Utah Agriculture Experiment Station Directors Files, USU 18:17, Special Collections and Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah (hereafter USUSCA). This is part of a report written by William Peterson, director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station and agriculture professor at the Utah State Agricultural College, for the Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain, discussing the status of public lands in the state of Utah. For a more detailed look at Potter and his survey, see Charles S. Peterson, “Albert F. Potter’s Wasatch Survey, 1902: A Beginning for Public Management of Natural Resources in Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 39, no. 3 (Summer 1971): 238–53. 41 “Proclamation 500 (1903): Setting Aside Manti Forest Reserve, Utah,” Wikisource, accessed December 4, 2017, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Proclamation_500. 42 Paul W. Gates, History of Public Land Law Development (Washington, DC: Public Land Review Commission, 1968), 568–85. 43 For instance, on the Toiyabe Range in Nevada, the range had come under administrative control, parceled into grazing allotments and units designed to provide a degree of stability to ranchers. See USDA, The Public Domain of Nevada and Factors Affecting Its Use, Technical Bulletin No. 301, by E. O. Wooten, April 1932 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1933), 37. 44 E. Louise Peffer, The Closing of the Public Domain: Disposal and Reservation Policies, 1900–50 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1951), 184–99. See also Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 81–102. Merrill stresses the fears ranchers had as USFS grazing policy

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Forest,” box 8, fd. 5, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 59 “A bill prepared by a Utah committee for federal control of grazing on the public domain,” box 8, fd. 6, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 60 “Peterson, William, report,” 3, box 6, fd. 32, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 61 “Peterson, William, report,” 2. For information on Powell’s life and ideology, see Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 133–35, and Wallace Stegner, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (New York: Penguin Books, 1954). 62 “Peterson, William, report,” 4. 63 “Miscellaneous report on disposition of public domain,” 15, 16–17, box 6, fd. 21, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 64 “Peterson, William, report,” 9–10, box 6, fd. 32, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 65 “Peterson, William, report,” 14–15. It is unclear if he is referencing the USFS or a potentially new regulatory agency. 66 “Peterson, William, report,” 16. 67 Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890–1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959), 266. 68 Hays, 271. 69 “Mead, Elwood, representative from California, report,” 1, box 6, fd. 24, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 70 “Van Petten, E.C., representative from Oregon, report,” 7, box 6, fd. 27, doc. 2, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 71 Carr Childers, Size of the Risk, 29. 72 Carr Childers, 30. Carr Childers also discusses the unique nature of Nevada’s public lands situation, especially the federal government’s ownership of 90 percent of the state. 73 “Statement by James R. Garfield, chair,” 6, box 6, fd. 9, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 74 “Wilson, Francis, representative from New Mexico, report,” box 6, fd. 25, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 75 “Tiffany, R.K., representative from Washington, report,” box 6, fd. 26, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 76 “Brandjord, I.M., representative from Montana, report,” box 6, fd. 28, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 77 “Moynihan, Charles, representative from Colorado, report,” box 6, fd. 31, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 78 “Jenkins, Perry, representative from Wyoming, report,” box 6, fd. 30, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 79 Report of the Committee on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1931), 1. Addressed to President Hoover, the report responded to five specific questions addressed previously by his administration. Should the states or the federal government administer the vacant, unreserved, unappropriated public domain? How should conservation of water resources be implemented, especially in regard to reclamation and flood control? Should states be part of the program to conserve subsurface minerals? Is the national forest system accomplishing the nation’s goals in regard to timber conservation? How can administrative changes produce greater efficiency in national conservation?

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80 Report, 2. The committee seems to have left the proposed administrative body’s identity intentionally ambiguous so that states could decide if they were interested in managing the unreserved domain in their respective states. 81 Report, 2–3. 82 Report, 6–8 (emphasis added). 83 Donnelly and Dunbar’s statements in “Comments received on the report of the committee,” box 6, fd. 2, doc. 2, USU 18:17, USUSCA. 84 Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 210. 85 Evans bestowed upon the bill the interminable title: “H. R. 5840, a bill to grant vacant, unreserved, unappropriated, nonmineral lands to accepting States, and to authorize the President to establish national ranges in nonaccepting States; to create a board authorized to determine as to the disposition of certain areas of public domain; to enable the United States, the States, and individuals to exchange lands for the consolidation of mingled areas, and granting lands to certain States to achieve that purpose; to provide for the control, disposition, and protection of stock-watering places and of intrastate and interstate stock driveways; and for the conservation of grazing resources, and for other purposes.” For brevity’s sake, it was also known as the Evans bill. For Nye and Evans’s sponsorship of the bill, see Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 211. For the bill’s title see, “Hearings,” 1. 86 Hearings, 9–29. 87 Hearings, 33. 88 Hearings, 31. It is unclear whether or not Redd and Macfarlane represented the majority of Utah ranchers with their ideas. However, they did represent institutions that had a vested stake in ranching on the public domain throughout the state. 89 Hearings, 201–5. 90 Hearings, 210, 212–16. 91 Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 212. 92 Carr Childers, Size of the Risk, 32. 93 Gates, Public Land Law Development, 610. The drought hit Utah especially hard in 1934 after Colton had already left Congress. For more on its impacts on Utah, see Leonard J. Arrington, “Utah’s Great Drought of 1934,” Utah Historical Quarterly 54 (Summer 1986): 245–64. 94 Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 216. 95 The most important change was nixing Colton’s stipulation that any state could back out of having their unreserved lands federally managed if it so desired. See Gates, Public Land Law Development, 610. 96 Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 241. Quote from comments by Clarence Forsling in Public Land Policy: Proceedings of the Western Resources Conference, ed. Phillip O. Foss (Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1968), 90. 97 For brief histories on Taylor’s positions, see Peffer, Closing of the Public Domain, 216; Gates, Public Land Law Development, 610; Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning, 139.

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NOTICES

Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2019. xi + 352 pp. Paper, $19.95

By James H. Knipmeyer

The writer and photographer Stephen Trimble has contributed a fine addition to the series of national park readers published by the University of Utah Press. Selections are drawn from a wide cast of characters, from explorers like Solomon Nunes Carvalho, scientists like Clarence Dutton, writers like Ann Zwinger, and many others. Trimble, with his long history working and living in and writing about Capitol Reef, leaves autobiographical imprints throughout— his relationships, recollections, writings, photographs. Although most of the selections have been previously published, this reader curates and packages them in a fresh, accessible way. People familiar with Capitol Reef will find the book to be required reading. So, too, will people passing through.

Outdoorsy Utah readers may have seen a Denis Julien rock inscription along the banks of the Green and Colorado rivers. A French fur trader with a Native American wife, Julien ventured west to the Colorado Plateau in the late 1820s. While records from that period are slim, James Knipmeyer fills in the gaps of Julien’s story with a history of the contemporaneous fur trade in an attempt to better understand Julien himself. Tracing Julien’s life, from his mysterious early life to his apparent death in 1844, Knipmeyer presents a portrait of early western exploration and a glimpse of the different cultures that encountered each other in what would become Utah. While many facts about Julien remain unknown, the book does paint a vivid picture of the world he occupied.

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Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West By Sara Dant Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, 2016. xiii + 221 pp. Paper, $29.95

Since its inception, the field of environmental history has had a close association with the American West. Sara Dant, a professor of history at Weber State University, draws on a literature now spanning decades to show how the human–nature interaction has unfolded in the West, from prehistory to the present. A survey rather than a deep dive, Losing Eden seeks not to cast blame for environmental problems but to show the environmental toll and what it means for those living there and elsewhere. Although ambitious in scope, Dant recognizes the limitations of such a wide lens, so she also provides suggested readings at the end of each chapter. Losing Eden is an excellent starting point for students, scholars, and others interested in the field.

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THOMAS G. ALEXANDER is Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor Emeritus of Western American History at Brigham Young University and author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of twenty-seven books and monographs and more than one hundred fifty articles. He has served as an officer in many historical organizations. His prizes include the Evans Biography Award, the Western History Association Honorary Life Membership, and Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society. LEISL CARR CHILDERS is Assistant Professor of History at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the environmental history and management of the nation’s public lands and has been featured on the Bundyville podcast, PBS Frontline, and in High Country News. Her first book, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin, won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Contemporary Nonfiction in 2016. ELIZABETH HORA is Public Archaeologist for the Utah Division of State History and earned her Master’s degree in Archaeology from Utah State University. She operates the Utah Public Archaeology Network (UtahPAN), an organization dedicated to stewarding archaeological sites and educating the public about the past. BENJAMIN KISER is a teacher of Early American History at Wayne Carle Middle School in Westminster, Colorado. He holds an MA in History from the University of Utah and a BS in Social Studies Teaching from Utah State University. His research interests center on the conflicts surrounding public land management in the twentieth-century American West.

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ELEANOR MAHONEY is the National Park Service Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Labor and Productivity. In 2008–2009 she served as the Assistant National Coordinator for Heritage Areas. This article was made possible through the National Park Service in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CHRISTOPHER MERRITT is the State Historic Preservation Officer for Utah, and he holds a PhD from the University of Montana and a Master’s of Science from Michigan Technological University. Beyond his duties with the state of Utah, he teaches Historical Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management at Salt Lake Community College. MARIA E. MONTOYA is an Associate Professor of History at New York University and the Dean of Arts and Sciences at NYU Shanghai. She is the author of Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840–1900, and lead author of Global Americans: A Social and Global History of the United States. Her forthcoming book is Making a Working Man’s Paradise: Progressives Managing Workers in Colorado’s Company Towns. MATTHEW A. PEARCE is Principal Historian at the Preservation and Design Studio PLLC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His work is primarily focused on historic preservation– related projects, including National Register of Historic Places nominations, Historic Preservation Certification tax credit application preparation/consulting, and Section 106 documentation. Prior to his current role, Pearce

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YVETTE TOWERSAP TUELL graduated from Idaho State University with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology, from Vermont Law School with a Master’s of Studies in Environmental Law, and from University of Utah with a

LAURA ALICE WATT is a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning at Sonoma State University. She is an environmental historian interested in the ways in which protection and restoration of ecosystems affect the interactions of people and place over time. Her book, The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore, was published in 2017 by the University of California Press. She is also an avid photographer.

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JAMES R. SKILLEN is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Calvin University and author of The Nation’s Largest Landlord: The Bureau of Land Management in the American West. This essay draws on his forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, This Land Is My Land.

Master’s in History. As a Shoshone-Bannock Tribal member, she is particularly interested in Native American history, tribal rights, and natural and cultural resources, with over twenty years of experience in the environmental field.

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taught courses in U.S. history, environmental history, and public lands history at the University of Oklahoma.

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It may be rare for a grove of aspen trees to enjoy world renown, but this has become the case for a stand known as the Pando clone bordering the southwest shore of Fish Lake in central Utah. The Pando—Latin meaning I spread— is actually a single tree, a “forest of one” that sprouts over 40,000 stems through an expansive root system. Its cloned shoots, all from a single male parent aspen, form an ancient stand that is world famous for its size, weight, and age. It is also the object of concern. Although to the untrained eye the tall white trunks appear a healthy stand, scientists tell us the Pando is not rejuvenating at rates needed for healthy growth.

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The challenge for range scientists and forest supervisors is to determine the causes of and solutions for the decline. From a historical standpoint, this seventy-two year aerial photo chronosequence showing forest cover change within the Pando aspen clone offers important baseline clues into the size and health of the organism in the recent past. Note in particular changes in tree density, the built environment, and Fish Lake itself. Courtesy Dr. Paul C. Rogers, Western Aspen Alliance, Wildland Resources, and Ecology Center, Utah State University. Base images courtesy of USDA Aerial Photography Field Office, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Profile for Utah State History

Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, Number 2, 2020  

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