Chip Ward

Chip Ward was raised in New Jersey and earned a B.A. from Tufts University in 1971.  He and his wife Linda moved to Utah and ran the Sleeping Rainbow Guest Ranch inside Capitol Reef National Park from 1974 to 1978 before moving north to Grantsville where he organized campaigns to make polluters accountable. His first book,Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West, is an autobiographical account of his formative years in Utah’s canyon country and the struggle to keep Utah’s deserts from becoming ecological sacrifice zones for weapons testing, toxic incinerators, and radioactive waste dumps.  Considered an environmental classic, the book has been read by generations of Utah college students.

His second book, Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land, describes visionary quests to rewild the land, free dammed rivers, and abolish nuclear power. An essay he wrote about homeless people in the library was the inspiration for the movie The Public. His novel, Stony Mesa Sagas, is a humorous story about life in a rural village that is a gateway to a national park.  From 2003 until 2018 he was a regular contributor to and his essays and articles have been published in the Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Nation, Orion, the LA Times and several other outlets. 

Ward’s early writing was generated and shaped by his role as organizer and spokesperson for several successful campaigns to curb polluters. He has been interviewed by CNN, CBS, BBC, PBS, NPR, and scores of local television and radio programs about environmental and conservation controversies. He co-founded HEAL Utah and served on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for eight years. His newsletters, pamphlets, op-eds, and other political writings are archived at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.  Rebecca Solnit wrote, ”Chip Ward is his own particular phenomenon, one of the most acute environmental thinkers of our time.”

Although known for his political adventures and writing, Ward was a career librarian. He drove a bookmobile, managed library development programs, and ended as the Deputy Director of the Salt Lake City Library System from 2001 to 2007 when the award-winning Library Square was built and opened. He wrote Utah’s first intellectual freedom manual for librarians and taught many workshops on the perils of censorship.

Ward says, “I write at the intersection of humility, hubris, resilience, and folly.”



Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West, Verso, 1999

Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land, Island Press,  2004

Dance, Don’t Drive: Resilient Thinking for Turbulent Times, University of Utah Press, 2012

Stony Mesa Sagas, Torrey House Press, 2017


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