Bears Ears books authors at San Juan Record Bookstore on Oct. 17

The authors of two books focusing on the Bears Ears will visit the San Juan Record Bookstore on Thursday, October 17 at 7 p.m. The bookstore is located at 49 South Main Street in Monticello.

Steven Strom and Rebecca Robinson will make a brief presentation and be available to visit and sign copies of the books.

They collaborated together in the production of Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land and Voices From Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land. Both books are published by the University of Arizona Press.

Views (239 pages) features the spectacular photography of Strom, while Voices (412 pages) is a compilation of more than 70 in-depth interviews with local residents and key people involved in the Bears Ears debate.

Steven Strom retired in 2007 from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, AZ. He completed undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard University and taught at SUNY-Stony Brook and Amherst.

He has published nine books through the University of Arizona Press.

Strom said he was fortunate to interact with Joy Harjo in several of the earlier publishing efforts.  Harjo is now the national poet laureate

Rebecca Robinson lives in Portland, OR, where she is raising a growing family.  Rebecca has worked as a journalist in Vermont, Oregon, and California, where she has covered education, crime, and economic development, among other things.

Her daughter, Ava, was born 14 months ago and is “doing great,” said Rebecca.

The grandfather and granddaughter were drawn to collaborate together in 2015, after the untimely death of Karen Strom, who is Steven’s wife and Rebecca’s grandmother.

The family held a memorial service for Karen at Muley Point in San Juan County.  Robinson said the event was “a profound experience that reconnected us to this landscape we have been visiting for decades.”

At that time, they began to work together on a project on the debate over public lands.  When the focus of national attention turned to San Juan County during the debate over Bears Ears National Monument, they found a natural fit for their interests.

However, Strom said the book began as an “illustrated love letter to the landscape, but as we started to talk to people, my eyes and ears were opened to the stories of the people who live close to the land.”

Strom said the focus turned to “exploring the complexities of the interaction between people who live adjacent to public lands and those who visit.”

With the change, Strom said, “The story became far, far richer.  The focus is to listen to as wide a range of voices as possible. It takes a long time and a lot of listening.”

The books are the output of several years of work covering thousands of photos, hundreds of interviews, and tens of thousands of miles.

Since the release of the Bears Ears books, Strom has worked on another project, attempting to understand how compromise can be reached in public land issues.

His focus is on the Emery County Public Lands Bill, which was passed by Congress.

“The Emery County bill protected one million acres, including designated recreation areas and wilderness areas,” said Strom.

This is within the context of the transition of Emery County from a coal-based economy to something else.

“The Emery County bill accounts for the needs of folks who live adjacent to the land to make a living and keep their connection to the land,” said Strom. “The success may be due to people who exercised leadership over 20 years with the Emery County Public Lands Council.”

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday