The Wilderness Problem : A Narrative of Contested Landscapes in San Juan County, Utah
Portland State University
"Wilderness preservation has been at the center of debates about public land policy for almost half a century, and nowhere has the controversy been more intractable than in Utah. Despite its vast expanses of undeveloped red rock desert, managed primarily by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Utah has less designated wilderness than any other state in the West. In this study, I focus on San Juan County in southeast Utah to explore the conflict over the designation of wilderness. I analyze and interpret this wilderness debate from three different perspectives. The first explores the history of the Utah wilderness debate from the first BLM wilderness inventory in the 1970s through its re-inventory in the 1990s. The second perspective incorporates the spatial analytical techniques of geographical information systems to provide a relatively objective view of landscape characteristics used to define wilderness. Lastly, I examine the personal views of the meaning of wilderness through the words of actual participants in the debate."