"One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.” — Wallace Stegner

About the Land Desk

This is a newsletter about Place. Namely that place where humanity and the landscape intersect. Geographic ground zero for Land Desk coverage is the Four Corners Country and Colorado Plateau, land of the Ute, Diné, Pueblo, Apache, and San Juan Southern Paiute people. Coverage will spread outward into the remainder of the “public land states” of the Interior West.

Twice weekly dispatches include news, commentary, fact-checks, myth-busting, essays, photos, and data-visualizations focusing on public lands, water, stolen and colonized lands, climate, politics, economics, environmental justice, energy, resource exploitation, and the people who are trying to make that scenery-matching society (and some who aren’t). Most importantly, I’ll be putting the current news into context—historical, geographical, geological, political, cultural—in an attempt to better understand how we got here and where the region should go now.

How much? And what do I get?

All this great land news and commentary will cost you just $6 per month. Sign up for a whole year and get two months free! ($60 per year). I mean, what can you get these days for just $6 a month? Not a heck of a lot.

For that low, low price, you will receive: At least two dispatches per week, which may include (at the bare minimum):

Dispatches from the Land (news, perspective, essay, reporter’s notebook, and even occasional long-read and investigative pieces)

Data Dumps (ranging from a few statistics concerning current events to a full-blown data-story like the ones I have been doing for High Country News)

News Nuggets (A quick look at some of the most important stories from the awesome journalists covering the region)

Foto Fridays (A visual break from news and doom-scrolling).

Maybe you’re looking for a noble way to spend that stimulus check? Become a Founding Member of the Land Desk by ponying up $100 or more and receive all the bennies of a paid subscriber, my undying gratitude, plus a Land Desk t-shirt or tote bag and a signed copy of my book of your choice: Sagebrush Empire, River of Lost Souls, or Behind the Slickrock Curtain.

But that’s not all, folks. I’ll also be giving hot takes on news as it breaks, doing public lands and energy primers, throwing in excerpts from my published books and teasers from upcoming ones, running book reviews, dispatches from my travels, the green chile atlas, photographs, interviews, and even fiction.

About Jonathan

I’ve been writing about the lands, cultures, and communities of the Western U.S. and the Four Corners Country—my homeland—for, well, a long time. My journalism career kicked off back in the 1980s when I was the editor of the Durango High School newspaper. After college and working at a seed factory and as a bike mechanic, I became the sole reporter/photographer at the Silverton Standard & the Miner. Later, following a three-year stint as an artisan baker, I launched the Silverton/San Juan Mountain Journal with my wife, Wendy, then purchased and edited and published the Silverton Standard & the Miner for several years.

I began my affiliation with High Country News in 2006, serving as associate editor, editor-in-chief, senior editor and, finally, contributing editor, a role in which I continue today. During that time I have written dozens of cover stories and countless perspective pieces, data-visualizations, and shorter news articles.

I write books, too, including: River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Spill (Torrey House Press 2018); Behind the Slickrock Curtain (Lost Souls Press, 2020); and Sagebrush Empire: Journey into the heart of the public land wars (Torrey House, 2021).

Learn more about me and my work.

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Send me news tips and suggestions and just your thoughts on the issues. And follow me on Twitter, @jonnypeace.

Reprints and freelancing

I am available for freelance and contract writing and editing, and the pieces you see here are available for reprint (and I will happily customize them to your needs). Contact me for pricing and other details: jonathan@riveroflostsouls.com

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Western lands and communities--in context.


Jonathan P. Thompson 

Writer, editor, runner, roamer, author of River of Lost Souls, Sagebrush Empire and Behind the Slickrock Curtain.