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Rocky Mountain Divide

Rocky Mountain Divide
Selling and Saving the West

A study of two western American states with different approaches to land conservation.

January 1993
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
293 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 maps, 2 tables |

The opposing forces of conservation and development have shaped and will continue to shape the natural environment and scenic beauty of the American West. Perhaps nowhere are their opposite effects more visible than in the neighboring states of Colorado and Utah, so alike in their spectacular mountain environments, yet so different in their approaches to land conservation. This study explores why Colorado has over twenty-five land trusts, while Utah has only one.

John Wright traces the success of voluntary land conservation in Colorado to the state’s history as a region of secular commerce. As environmental consciousness has grown in Colorado, people there have embraced the businesslike approach of land trusts as simply a new, more responsible way of conducting the real estate business.

In Utah, by contrast, Wright finds that Mormon millennialism and the belief that growth equals success have created a public climate opposed to the formation of land trusts. As Wright puts it, "environmentalism seems to thrive in the Centennial state within the spiritual vacuum which is filled by Mormonism in Utah." These findings remind conservationists of the power of underlying cultural values that affect their efforts to preserve private lands.


John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, Association of American Geographers
Best Book, Mountain Environment and Culture, Finalist

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part I. Land and Life
    • 1. Geographers and Landscapes
    • 2. Land Regulation and Conservation in America
    • 3. The Rocky Mountain West: Searching Country
  • Part II. Colorado: The Icon
    • 4. Eldorado in the Rockies
    • 5. The Front Range: Geography and Development
    • 6. Golden to Fort Collins: The Trials of Suburban Land Conservation
    • 7. Boulder: A Model Open Space Community
    • 8. Ski Country: Uncontrolled Development and Industrial Tourism
    • 9. Southern Colorado: The Outback
    • 10. The West Slope: Rivers, Oil Shale, and Sunset Living
    • 11. There Lies a City
  • Part III. Utah: An Elusive Zion
    • 12. The Mormon Nation
    • 13. Money-Digging and Seer Stones
    • 14. Colonization and the Mormon Landscape
    • 15. The Wasatch Front: Geography and Development
    • 16. Salt Lake: Carving Up the Emerald City
    • 17. Provo: Happy Valley Hangs On
    • 18. Bountiful, Ogden, and Brigham City: Suburban Zion Spreads North
    • 19. The Wasatch Back-Valleys: Mormon Heartland
    • 20. If You Build It, He Will Come
  • Part IV. Home
    • 21. The Geography of Home
  • Appendix: Land-saving Groups
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index