This Land: How cowboys, capitalism, and corruption are ruining the American West

My first book…the product of ten years of research and wandering on the public lands of the American West…a product of love and affection and anger. The idea for the title of course comes from Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” whose lyrics I learned as a schoolkid in the 1980s. Funny thing is that what was taught to me in school did not include the complete lyrics. A portion of Guthrie’s original song, perhaps the most important part, was censored. The stanza that never made it to my school, and probably not to many others, was this:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

You still will have a hard time finding that censored lyric when you hunt around on the godforsaken Internet. So be it. What Guthrie was talking about was land that belonged to everyone — you, me, and all the bastards in between.

As for the image under that vast Western sky of egg-shell blue, well it’s a bulldozer that pulls a naval anchor chain across a stretch of pinyon-juniper forest in Utah, tearing out the roots of the trees, laying waste to the ecosystem…so that money can be made for a privileged few who wear cowboy hats. One of the many examples of “land management” as practiced by the federal government. Multiply this scene by hundreds of millions of acres, imagine the various forms of “management” for the profit of the few, and you might get a sense of the scope of the ecological tragedy unfolding. This land is your land…or perhaps we should amend that to “was.” And the crazy part of it is that green groups who purport to be “environmentalists” are in fact abetting the destruction. Read my book to understand what’s really going on. Order a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM, IndieBound, or Apple Books. Or contact me at cketcham99@mindspring.com.