John B. Wright’s Rocky Mountain Divide: Selling and Saving the West contains a unique examination of Mormon attitudes toward land conservation. In spite of inaccurate statements about Mormon history, doctrine, and practice, the book is a valuable resource on land conservation in the West and a careful examination of the present status of conservation efforts in Utah and Colorado.
Wright’s book is intended to be a call to arms for voluntary land conservation through land trusts “private, nonprofit citizen groups which engage in land protection activities.” The mission of the land trust is to conserve private lands of significant natural, scenic, and historic value. Most land trusts receive tax-exempt status from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service. At the time Wright’s book was written, Utah had only one land trust while Colorado had twenty-seven.