Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

Dan Spencer, Judy Blunt


Natural History, Oregon, place


University of Montana


River House is about a young woman facing opposing urges between land, family, familiarity, and liberation. At the heart of it is my lifetime in the central Oregon desert and my life as an international river guide. The framework of this book is the building of a log house with my father on our ranch. On the surface the work is a discussion of what it means to build a home, perfect for the place it sits and sensitive to its desert environs. I flash to the past, the future, and beyond property lines. I explore community, politics, fire and water. I explore what binds my father and me and what we are willing to endure for place. In a quarter century I have witnessed change on grand social and environmental scales. Central Oregon has become the trendy new west full of people who abandoned their own places for this better place. I write to preserve the open and the harsh desert I grew up in. I hope to help people understand the human and animal communities that give definition to this desert on the hottest wavering days of summer and the flattest cold days of winter. This is a long look beyond the white plastic fences around a single horse and giant house that characterize the modern ranchette. I write for people who live in the desert for privacy. I write for people who live in the desert for community. I write for the environment and an ecosystem that I am a part of.

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© Copyright 2008 Sarahlee Lawrence