Barganing for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America

Barganing for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America

Slideshow & Discussion with author Stephen Trimble


This event is in collaboration with Alta Community Enrichment

Thursday, July 21
Our Lady of the Snows
Alta, Utah

Steve Trimble will share with the Alta community, the story of Snowbasin’s land trade, a mirror of the issues faced by every citizen of the West. We all love special places-but who should decide their future? As Alta engages with community conversations about development and preservation, Trimble’s slides and stories provide regional context. We encourage you to read “Barganing for Eden”, by Stephen Trimble, prior to the event.

In his award-winning book, Bargaining for Eden, Trimble traces the tension between grassroots values and greed, politics, ownership, and patriarchy. First comes Mount Ogden, evolving from overused commons to reclaimed national forest to ski area-all community-based. This beloved ski area, Snowbasin, then loses its sense of community as it develops on a grand scale and hosts the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The lens for this story is billionaire resort owner Earl Holding, whose power and money bring him what he wants, despite the anger and agony of local people trying to preserve their special relationship with the mountain.

In the second story, the author becomes the lens, turning from observer to actor, buying land in southern Utah redrock country, splitting the property, and facing Earl’s values within himself. Trimble deals with the ethics of ownership, the same issues confronting every New Westerner hoping for a piece of paradise-housebuilding, conservation easements, stewardship, sustainability, and the “devil’s bargains” of tourism.


“Every so often a book is published that brings the larger world into clear focus through a well-polished, high-quality lens directed at one small part of that world. Bargaining for Eden is such a book, and everyone who is interested in the human condition and the natural environment…will be well served by reading it. Stephen Trimble’s skills and perseverance as an investigative reporter honor the craft of writing and …bring integrity, honesty, intelligence, humility and hope to a story that is about their antonyms. Trimble has offered us a way beyond hatred with a great and shocking story of the past and a template for the future.” -Dick Dorworth, Mountain Gazette

“Trimble’s book takes a courageous look at the ethics of landownership and the price of paradise.” -Jennifer Winger, Nature Conservancy Magazine

Reading guide