Derek Dowsett is the Producer of the County Seat. Now entering his 11th season of the program, he has received what he considers a "Crash Course" in County Government.

Utah is a unique state because 90% of the population resides in urban areas. This leaves a lot of communities in the state that are off the Wasatch Front and left without a voice when it comes to issues that impact their communities.

Rural Utah has become a museum of sorts for the Wasatch Front. These are the places we go, to escape the daily grind. However in our efforts to preserve the places we all consider special to visit, we have forgotten about the people who live in the surrounding communities.

County Commissioners from a number of these areas that are impacted have organized the Western Freedom Festival. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the heritage, customs, and cultures associated with the Western Lifestyle here in UTAH.

Much of that heritage is related directly to the land and natural resources that brought people to settle in places like Marysvale, Panguitch, Kanab, and Cedar City (among many others).

This week on the County Seat we will take a closer look at the Western Freedom Festival and its purpose. We’ll touch on issues relating to the health of the forest, current policies on publicly managed lands, and the impacts they have on rural communities.

Our Guests this week include:
Darin Bushman, Piute County Commissioner
Alan Gardner, Washington County Commissioner
Doug Heaton, Kane County Commissioner
Mark Whitney, Beaver County Commissioner
LeLand Pollock, Garfield County Commissioner

You may find the following links helpful as you begin looking into some of the issues we discussed on the program.

The original Intent of the National Forests:

I was unable to come up with any recent data on forest fires for 2015 but I did come across this report from Alaska (If you know where we could find more recent data please shoot me an email. :

The Property and Environment Research Center released a report this year that I think is relevant to our discussion as we discuss the difference between the management of State and Federal Lands:

Learn More about the Western Freedom Festival and get your tickets to the event.


Tune in this weekend to The County Seat, Sunday Morning at 8:30am on ABC 4 UTAH. You can also watch the show online by going to our YouTube Channel.

Derek Dowsett

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