Now Available

Where Roads Will Never Reach:
Wilderness and Its Visionaries in the Northern Rockies

by Frederick H. Swanson
University of Utah Press (softcover, $24.95)

In 2014 the citizens of Idaho and Montana celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act – the law that secured protection for eight million acres of wild forests and mountains in these two states. Now comes a book that tells the inside story of how these important designations were won.

This groundbreaking work traces the history of wildland preservation in the Northern Rockies, reaching back decades before Congress passed the Wilderness Act. Environmental historian Frederick Swanson shows how hunters, anglers, outfitters, scientists, hikers and other outdoorspeople successfully challenged timber roads and hydropower projects in dozens of roadless wildlands and persuaded Congress to designate some of the nation's most significant wilderness areas.

Using newly available archival sources and interviews with many of the participants, Where Roads Will Never Reach tells how ordinary citizens halted the federal government’s resource development juggernaut of the 1950s and 1960s, safeguarding some of the last strongholds of grizzly bear, mountain goat, elk, trout, salmon and steelhead. From Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return to Montana's Scapegoat and Great Bear, the wilderness areas of the Northern Rockies display a record of lasting public concern and are a model for citizens working to protect today's threatened landscapes.

Outside of Alaska, the Northern Rocky Mountains are the absolute heart and soul of what’s left of primitive America. We owe a great deal of thanks to the many ordinary citizens and small handful of legislators who saved these tracts from extensive fragmentation during the frenzy of postwar industrial overdevelopment. And we owe Swanson our gratitude for telling their story in clear, direct, and readable prose.”
--James M. Glover, author of A Wilderness Original: The Life of Bob Marshall

“Swanson has captured the importance of passion and commitment by individuals and groups to the wild lands of the Northern Rockies. The people portrayed in his book felt connected to the land and flora and fauna that make Montana the last best place.”
--Joan Montagne, past president, Madison-Gallatin Alliance

“This reliable and very well written account of the forest history of the Northern Rockies, with a focus on the great Wilderness resource of this region, is based on an amazing and innovative use of primary sources, with no archival source being missed. Without doubt the definitive history of this important subject.”
--Dennis Baird, The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project

Read Doug Scott's review in High Country News

Listen to an interview with Fred on Utah Public Radio about Where Roads Will Never Reach and wilderness preservation in the West.

Brandborg book cover

Winner of the Western Writers of America
Spur Award for Best Contemporary
Western Nonfiction
and the Wallace Stegner Prize in
Environmental and Western American History,
University of Utah Press

The Bitterroot and Mr. Brandborg

Clearcutting and the Struggle for Sustainable Forestry in the Northern Rockies

by Frederick H. Swanson

University of Utah Press
Hardcover $39.95

In the late 1960s Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest was the epicenter of a nationwide conflict over the management of our forest lands. Citizens of the rural Bitterroot Valley protested the U.S. Forest Service’s program of clearcutting whole mountain-sides and bulldozing unsightly terraces to aid replanting. Soon the controversy reached the pages of national newspapers and members of Congress were calling for investigations.

The Bitterroot and Mr. Brandborg explores the roots of this historic controversy, which was orchestrated by a crusty, outspoken former Forest Service officer named G. M. Brandborg. “Brandy,” as Montanans called him, was the supervisor of the Bitterroot National Forest from 1935-1955, during which time he implemented his vision of how public forest lands could be managed in harmony with the local economy and the natural environment. While Brandy believed that clearcutting had its place in forest management, he presciently understood that overcutting private and public forest lands would bring social and economic upheaval to western Montana.

The issues that energized Guy Brandborg a half century ago are still with us today—and his vision of public forestry still has much to tell us about our relationship to the landscapes of the West.

Winner of four regional awards for history and biography, including the 2007 Utah Book Award for nonfiction.

Dave Rust: A Life in the Canyons

by Frederick H. Swanson
of Utah
$29.95 /

David D. Rust (1874-1963), a backcountry guide and tourism visionary from Kanab, Utah, was among the first to recognize the potential of the Colorado Plateau Province for grand adventure. His travels in this region were a feast for the mind and the senses. On trips ranging from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the remote red-rock lands of Utah, he introduced his clients to the regionís greatest geologic marvels and helped them comprehend the history, geology, and scientific importance of this stunning landscape. He was an early practitioner of adventure travel at a time when few Americans knew what wonders this region held, and his life story follows the development of southern Utah from a primitive frontier to a prized recreational destination.  

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Journeys in the Canyon Lands of Utah and Arizona, 1914-1916

by George C. Fraser
Edited by Frederick H. Swanson

University of Arizona Press
Softcover, 224 p., $19.95

George Corning Fraser, a Wall Street attorney with an unusual thirst for adventure, traveled extensively throughout the Southwest in the early 1900s to study its magnificently exposed geology. He was a keen observer of landscapes and an interested and sympathetic listener, and his journals convey an engaging picture of life in the remote corners of the Colorado Plateau in the years before the automobile made its inroads. Traveling mostly on horseback, he spoke at length with sheepherders and forest rangers, townspeople and ranchers, community leaders and eccentric prospectors.His firsthand accounts will transport you to a time when explorers relied on their horses and their wits to take them into a fascinating and little-known backcountry.

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Masthead photo: Cathedral Valley in the northern Waterpocket Fold, 1915.
Photo by Dave Rust, reprinted courtesy of LDS Church Archives.