Factors That Influenced Homesteading and Land Abandonment in San Juan County, Utah
Brigham Young University
Homesteading in San Juan County, Utah is for the most part, located on Sage Plain at elevations between 6,000 to 7,200 feet. Sage Plain is an undulating surface deeply dissected with canyons. The soil is relatively shallow and the predominant vegetation is pinyon, juniper, sage brush and blue-stem grass.
The 52 year mean precipitation is 15.47 inches. Since the beginning of weather records there has been a noticeable decrease in the annual precipitation. There is generally sufficient moisture to mature winter wheat. Pinto beans are also grown in the more favorable locations.
Principle factors that have influenced homesteading and land abandonment are: (1) availability of land, (2) transportation and isolation, (3) schools and cultural benefits, (4) wheat prices, (5) farming methods, (6) precipitation and (7) laws and government policies.
The 80 years of land occupancy (1880 to 1960) are divided into 4 periods: (1) the early period (1880 to 1909), (2) the new dry-farm period (1910 to 1920), (3) the land abandonment period (1921 to 1937) and the period of new farming methods and land expansion (1938 to 1960).