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‘Sagebrush Empire’ And The Battle Over Public Land

T Schofield

A war over public lands in the Western U.S. has been raging for decades. And the epicenter of that battle? According to journalist Jonathan Thompson, it’s in southeastern Utah’s San Juan County.

If you’re wondering why San Juan County, you’re not alone. As Thompson starting looking into this issue, his first question was why this nearly 8,000 square miles of desert — home to some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet — has become a breeding ground for racism, bitterness and deep political division. In search of answers, Thompson dug into San Juan’s history, and then hit the road to explore it for himself. He toured the county, speaking with government officials, ranchers, environmentalists and the Indigenous people whose ancestral ties to the land date back millennia. His book is called Sagebrush Empire, and he joins us this Friday at 11 a.m. to talk about it.

Jonathan Thompson's book is Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands. [Bookshop|Amazon|IndieBound]

Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.