American Zion: Mormon perspectives on landscape from Zion National Park to the Bundy family war
Quammen, Betsy Gaines
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This dissertation is about Mormon views on landscape and resource use from Euro-American settlement in what is today southern Utah and southeastern Nevada, to the current range battles over public lands. In journals, articles, interviews, videos, and blog posts, a record of grazing and extraction during early settlement through the opening of tourism and modern federal management exists; these materials portray religious and utilitarian views on landscape and justify land use accordingly. Opinions over the appropriate use of federal lands, cultural biases and differing notions of ownership present a wide disparity on regional and national perceptions of suitable uses of federal property. Most urban Americans want to access public lands for reasons other than resource extraction. Western ranchers and their supporters, on the other hand, want to use public land for economic purposes. A group of Mormon ranchers justify their position through ancestry, entitlement and religious beliefs. The result has been a protracted conflict, in Mormon homeland, between the federal government, regional residents and the broader American public. This dissertation tracks early land use by Southern Paiute and Mormons; the history of grazing on federal lands and the establishment of national parks and monuments in Mormon country; and current armed conflicts over land use.