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Hundreds have escaped America's 'cultural revolution' and are building an off-grid desert outpost
Signage a a 2018 survivalist expo. (Photo by Olivier Donnars/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Hundreds have escaped America's 'cultural revolution' and are building an off-grid desert outpost

Tens of millions of 'preppers' are ready. Others committed to self-reliance have gone deep into Utah to avoid the wait.

Army Col. Chris Ellis studies extreme disaster preparedness. In his 2021 doctoral dissertation, "Are You Ready for it? Examining Security in Contemporary Disaster Preparedness, From Normal to Noachian," Ellis noted that at least 11.4 million people "have the means to survive at home for 31 days or more after a disaster."

Earlier this year, Ellis told Reuters that the number of "preppers" — survivalists who "take a variety of active steps to prepare for future disasters at levels often far beyond official recommendations of 3-14 days — has grown to roughly 20 million people. Ellis reached this conclusion on the basis of household resiliency data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Attendees of the March Longmont Survival and Prepper Show in Boulder provided Reuters with some indications of why the number of preppers has ballooned in recent years. Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, lawlessness, power grid issues, and phone signal outages were among the reasons cited.

While millions are preparing for the worst, others aren't bothering with the wait.

On a 1,245-acre plot of land in Juab County, Utah, 55 miles west of Santaquin and roughly 40 miles north of Delta, a group of homesteaders have been developing a community committed to one of the prepper's key objectives: self-reliance.

'Now, with everything that's happening, we wonder if it's far enough.'

Philip Gleason, the founder of the Utah [Operation Self-Reliance] Land Co-op at Riverbed Ranch, told Deseret News that some of the 130 predominantly Mormon families who have secured 2-acre parcels on the property came to escape the "cultural revolution in the U.S." underway.

"At the start of any cultural revolution, the people that control their food are the ones that come out on top," said Gleason.

A mother from California sought refuge to escape what she perceived to be LGBT propaganda in schools. A couple from Portland told DeseretNews they simply "needed to get out," noting "[t]hey've lost their minds."

Others journeyed out for health reasons.

According to Gleason, most "just want a safe place to raise family and food."

"When we first came out here, we thought it might be too far away," said Gleason. "Now, with everything that's happening, we wonder if it's far enough."

Despite having similar goals, fears, and literature, Gleason suggested the people who have joined his off-grid community since he settled down in 2021 are nevertheless resistive to the "preppers" label.

Upon purchasing a lot, shareholders reportedly agree to build a house, a barn, and a greenhouse; install a septic system; produce solar energy; and dig a well. There are no sanitation utilities or shared power systems. Fortunately, under the valley flood is a flowing freshwater aquifer, meaning well-building is not an exercise in futility.

According to the Riverside Ranch website, residents — who are apparently "very pleased" with their Starlink Internet connections — must still pass Juab County's building inspections, which follows the International Residential Code. Extra to meeting building codes, residents still must pay county taxes.

Apparently, there are plans to build similar communities in Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alberta, Canada. Gleason's company, OSR Green LLC, has apparently bought up 1,298 acres near Snowflake, Arizona, where it will build Coslor Cove, which will allegedly become the state's largest off-grid community.

Whereas other rural refuges such as the Vivos Global Shelter Network's bunker systems appear to be highly individualistic and private, Riverbed Ranch appears to offer a far more integrated communitarian approach.

Deseret News noted that the community's over 70 children are home-schooled with some parental crossover in the way of instruction. Medical troubles are addressed by volunteers — although Gleason admitted to requiring a life-flight helicopter ride back to civilization when he broke his femur last year. While cash trades hands for various purchases, trades are reportedly also conducted in livestock, bread, and dairy.

"When we have this all built out," Gleason told Deseret, "we might be the third or fourth largest community in the county."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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