Winner of the Wallace Stegner Prize in American Environmental or Western History
Fredrick Swanson tells the story of Guy M. Brandborg and his impact on the practices of the U.S. Forest Service. As supervisor of Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest from 1935 to 1955, Brandborg engaged in a management style that promoted not only the well-being of the forest community but also the social and economic welfare of the local people. By relying on selective cutting, his goal was to protect the watersheds and wildlife habitats that are devastated by clear-cutting, and to prevent the job losses that follow such practices. Following his retirement, he became concerned that his agency was deviating from the practice of sustained-yield management of the forest’s timber lands, and led a highly visible public outcry that became known as the Bitterroot controversy. Brandborg’s behind-the-scenes lobbying contributed materially to the passage of the National Forest Management Act of 1976, the single most important law affecting public forestry since the creation of the Forest Service.
Meticulously written, The Bitterroot and Mr. Brandborg articulates Brandborg’s Progressive-era idealism and is based on extensive archival research in collections throughout the Rockies and the Northwest, including the Brandborg family papers. Swanson’s crisp narration of how one national forest supervisor understood the intricate connection between the grasslands and forests under his care and the communities that were so dependent on these invaluable resources, opens a much larger story about the meaning of public lands in a democratic society.
Winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Nonfiction-Contemporary.
"A thorough traveler must be something of a geologist, something of a botanist, an archaeologist, an ornithologist, an artist, a philosopher, and so on. Through it all he is likely to be friendly with a camera. He must be agreeable in society, contented in solitude, enthusiastic and patient as a fisherman."—Dave Rust
In the fall of 1897, Dave Rust, a young placer miner from Caineville, Utah, looked up from his sluice box on the Colorado River and gazed at the brilliant sandstone cliffs of Glen Canyon. He wasn’t finding much gold, but he knew that this landscape abounded in scenic beauty and that people would pay good money to see it. A quarter century later, he would fulfill his dream of taking adventurous travelers through this stunning canyon in his little canvas-covered canoes. By that time he had amassed a comprehensive knowledge of the geologic wonders of the Colorado Plateau province of Utah and Arizona, and each summer he led month-long pack trips through a mind-boggling variety of cliffs, mesas, mountaintop overlooks, and hidden desert canyons.
David D. Rust (1874–1963) grew up in south-central Utah, and as a young man he worked a variety of jobs. But the canyon country always called to him, and for more than three decades he was the premier backcountry outfitter and guide in southern Utah. He felt that travel was more than a pastime—it was a chance to enrich one’s mind, and he showed the way to achieve a deep understanding of the Colorado Plateau’s fabulous landforms.
Winner of the Evans Biography Award, the Utah State History Association's Best Utah History Book Award, the Mormon History Association Turner-Bergera Best Biography Award, the Utah State Division of History Francis Armstrong Madsen Best Utah History Book Award, and the Utah Book Award in Nonfiction.
The Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana are home to some of the most important remaining American wilderness areas, preserved because of citizens who stood against massive development schemes that would have diminished important wildlife habitat and the abiding sense of remoteness found in such places. Where Roads Will Never Reach tells the stories of hunters, anglers, outfitters, scientists, and other concerned citizens who devoted themselves to protecting remnant wild lands and ecosystems in the Northern Rockies. Environmental historian Frederick Swanson argues that their heartfelt, dedicated work helped boost the American wilderness movement to its current prominence.
Based on newly available archival sources and interviews with many of the participants, this groundbreaking study explores for the first time the grassroots campaigns that yielded some of the largest designated wilderness areas in America.
From Delicate Arch to the Zion Narrows, Utah’s five national parks and eight national monuments are home to some of America’s most amazing scenic treasures, created over long expanses of geologic time. In Wonders of Sand and Stone, Frederick H. Swanson traces the recent human story behind the creation of these places as part of a protected mini-empire of public lands.
Drawing on extensive historical research, Swanson presents little-known accounts of people who saw in these sculptured landscapes something worth protecting. Readers are introduced to the region’s early explorers, scientists, artists, and travelers as well as the local residents and tourism promoters who worked with the National Park Service to build the system of parks and monuments we know today, when Utah’s national parks and monuments face multiple challenges from increased human use and from development outside their borders. As scientists continue to uncover the astonishing diversity of life in these desert and mountain landscapes, and archaeologists and Native Americans document their rich cultural resources, the management of these federal lands remains critically important. Swanson provides us with a detailed and timely background to advance and inform discussions about what form that management should take.