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.