Book review: Looking down the road at the issues around the Canyon Country

By Connie Lewis

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 25 2014 1:30 p.m. MST

"ROADS IN THE WILDERNESS: Conflict in Canyon Country," by Jedediah S. Rogers, University of Utah Press, $24.95, 252 pages (nf)

When people first encountered the area now known as Utah’s canyon country, they were very likely daunted by the prospect of crossing the jumble of rocks, gorges, rivers and sand. Today, canyon country is a vibrant and vital attraction to tourists, environmentalists and energy developers.

Jedediah S. Rogers explores the complex issues and conflicts centered around the landscapes of southeastern Utah in his book, “Roads In the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country.” He focuses on the debate over roads, established and planned, to show just how strong the feelings run on all sides of the issues.

Wilderness enthusiasts campaign to limit and, in some cases, eliminate roads to preserve the wild beauty of the area. Energy developers push for roads to further their exploration and extraction. Off-road vehicle clubs and fans work to protect the access they feel allows them to explore the area in their own way.

Rogers presents all sides fairly and allows the readers to understand the fight for canyon country. He shows both victories and defeats on all sides. He goes behind the scenes and explains the complex negotiations that can go into the fight for each mile of road.

Rogers is a historian with Historical Research Associates in Missoula, Mont. He edited the book, “In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892,” which won the Evans Handcart Award from Utah State University and the Best Documentary Book Award from the Mormon History Association.

Connie Lewis attended the University of Utah and majored in journalism. She has been learning through research and writing for the past 30 years.

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