Author Jonathan P. Thompson visits the Bookworm Tuesday
Colorado author will sign copies of his new book, “Sagebrush Empire”
Public lands and their use have been at the center of heated debates, both nationally and in small mountain communities like the Vail Valley for the last several years. Luckily, Jonathan Thompson is here is to give fresh perspective on the issue.
Come listen to Colorado author and journalist, Jonathan Thompson, as he speaks about and signs copies of his new book, Sagebrush Empire, about the fight over public lands in the American West and how one couple got caught in the middle.
Full of slick rock and sagebrush, Utah, and by extension the American West, has been the center of many disputes, court cases, and rebellions over its high concentration of public lands. “The federal government stole a good chunk of the Western U.S. from the Indigenous people who had lived here for thousands of years. Then they put that land up for grabs—given away to white settlers, miners, railroad corporations, and farmers,” Thompson states. “What wasn’t given away was used and abused without the benefit of any regulations.”
Later, when the government began making attempts to secure the land through conservation efforts, many people who had come to profit off the land grew angry, particularly those that used the land for grazing cattle. In 2017, a Colorado couple was passing through San Juan County and closed the gate on a corral, subsequently facing felony charges two weeks later. “The rancher who owned the corral, along with the county prosecutor, alleged that the gate closer had done so in order to keep some cows away from water inside the corral, and he was charged with attempting to harm or kill the cattle. This is in spite of the fact that the corral had another big opening through which the cows could easily pass,” Thompson explains. “Public lands grazing is at the heart of the public lands wars in the west, and this is just one example.”
This war over public lands doesn’t just harm the land itself, or the cattle who use it to graze, but has larger repercussions, particularly for indigenous communities throughout the west. “In the past, Indigenous communities were often the victims of efforts to preserve or conserve public lands,” Thompson states. “But in more recent times environmentalists have started to acknowledge and atone for these things and are working much more closely with Indigenous people to try to fight for protections that line up with what the Indigenous tribes want, particularly in fights such as the Dakota Access Pipeline or Line 3, which bring the battle to a national level.”
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
As an environmental journalist himself, conservation is very important to Thompson and, in his opinion, should be central to the discourse around public lands. “Conservation is a matter of ethics and pragmatism: You should treat the place you live with respect. That’s the ethics part. The pragmatic part is that if you don’t treat this place, the planet earth, with respect then you’ll degrade the systems that give you and all of us humans life,” Thompson states. “On a big picture level, conservation will help us survive.”
What: Author Jonathan P. Thompson at the Bookworm
When: Tuesday, August 17th at 6pm
Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk in Edwards
Cost: $10 ticket, purchase online or at the Bookworm of Edwards
More Info: Call 970-926-READ or visit bookwormofedwards.com