The American West has been a fertile seedbed for opposition to environmental reform. James Morton Turner argues that populist opposition to environmental reform from the 1970s into the 1990s did not emerge most forcefully in battles over pollution, toxins, and other threats to public health, but in response to liberal Democrats and environmentalists’ championing of a new federal role in addressing long-standing issues such as wilderness protection. Through its national agenda, beginning in the 1970s the Republican party successfully harnessed growing anger over public lands protection. Republicans thereby made public lands, especially those in the West, an issue essential to the rise of the conservative Right in the postwar era.

Sections Guide

You may use the “Sections” menu on the upper right side of each page to navigate through this installment. Provided below is a summary of each section in this installment.


The full text of the article as it appeared in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of American History.

Teaching the Article

The author’s comments about using this article in the classroom. This installment includes 5 exercises:

Further Reading

A bibliography of related secondary sources recommended by the author.