‘Sagebrush Empire’ Explores Escalating Tensions Over Public Lands

September 1, 2021
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Mark Franklin closed the gate to a corral in Utah’s San Juan County in 2017.

Like many folks from Durango, Franklin and his wife, Rose Chilcoat, crossed the state line to camp in Utah. Neither of them guessed that little action — closing a gate — would embroil them in felony charges and years-long legal battles. But Jonathan P. Thompson’s new book, “Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands,” takes the long view on the escalating tensions over public lands and it puts that closed gate in context. Thompson is an environmental journalist focused on the American West. He grew up in Southwest Colorado and splits his time living in Durango and Greece.