With 70 percent of its land owned by the federal government, the Great Basin is known as America’s last frontier. It’s home to ghost towns, endless sagebrush and secretive government test sites. Paradoxically, the Great Basin also is the fastest growing urban region in the United States, thanks to the cities of Boise, Salt Lake City, Reno and Las Vegas that perch on its rim.
The Great Basin’s explosive growth has raised pressing economic and environmental questions, as larger communities compete for the desert’s dwindling water resources and independent-minded ranchers clash with government agencies looking to regulate and preserve this endangered ecosystem.
A new book, titled Cities, Sagebrush and Solitude: Urbanization and Cultural Conflict in the Great Basin, explores the region’s ecological and political history and the challenges it now faces. Today’s guest, Stephanie Witt, co-edited the book with Dennis R. Judd, a political science professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and she also is among the book’s contributing writers. Dr. Witt is director of the Applied Research Center at Boise State and a professor in the School of Public Service. Scholars affiliated with a number of universities, including several from Boise State, contributed chapters to the book.