Last month, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt tried a consensus approach to resolving the state's rancorous wilderness debate: He suggested a camping trip, but no one wanted to come.
Leavitt invited environmental leaders,
county commissioners, federal land managers, ranchers and coal
miners to eastern Utah. They would visit proposed wilderness areas
on Bureau of Land Management land and talk about how to keep some
of the land roadless and wild.
advocates said they won't be roasting marshmallows with the
governor anytime soon. "We have a cordial but fundamental
disagreement with the process," says Ted Wilson, a former Salt Lake
City mayor who serves on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness
Wilson says SUWA and the Utah
Wilderness Coalition's other 147 members want a single, statewide
wilderness bill that deals with all 5.7 million acres in their
proposal, including 1.3 million acres within the new Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
wilderness supporters aren't Leavitt's only worry. County
commissioners and members of Utah's congressional delegation,
unsure that the camping trip idea will work, have not yet given it
their full support. Still, Leavitt remains optimistic. Wilderness
designation "is not an uncomplicated problem," he says. "It is one
I am continuing to work on."