Tim DeChristopher came to Utah in his early 20s to work as a wilderness guide for at-risk and troubled youth. Tim was born in West Virginia, where his mother was an early advocate for the cessation of mountaintop removal coal mining. In 2008 as a student of Economics, Tim attended the Stegner Symposium at the University of Utah, where he was greatly moved and galvanized by Dr. Terry Root, a scientist for the International Panel on Climate Change. Dr. Root explained to the audience that elements of the climate crisis were already irreversible. Tim confronted Terry after her presentation and asked her if it were true that many species, natural wonders and bioregions were in imminent peril. Terry put her hand on Tim’s shoulder and said the following: “I am so sorry, but my generation failed yours.” Those words haunted Tim, and dramatically changed his personal worldview.

While Tim was taking his final exams at the University of Utah, advocates for Utah’s wilderness like Robert Redford and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance were attempting to bring attention to a controversial auction of Utah public lands, orchestrated by the outgoing Bush Administration. The auction included parcels adjacent to cherished natural resources like Canyonlands National Park. SUWA and other regional advocates brought a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in efforts to halt the auction pending further review and public comment. Through no fault of SUWA or their allies, the lawsuit could not settle the issue prior to the auction. On December 19th, Tim finished his last final exam and took TRAX to the protest that SUWA and others had organized outside of the auction. On arrival, Tim decided that the protest needed to be moved from outside of the auction to inside, where the action was happening. With no prior plan of action, Tim entered the building where the auction was held and approached the registration desk. When asked if he was there to bid, Tim made a quick decision. He registered as Bidder 70 and entered the auction.

Tim intended to stand up and make a speech or create some other kind of disruption. Once inside, however, Tim recognized the opportunity to stop the auction in a more effective, enduring fashion. He sat quietly with his bidder paddle lowered, until he saw a friend from his church openly weeping at the sterile transfer of beloved red rock lands away from the public trust and into the hands of energy giants. It was then that Tim decided to act.