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Years of consensus failed in Utah

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Dear HCN,

In the Grand Canyon Trust, HCN has finally found an environmental group on the Colorado Plateau that champions the idea that we need to win over local communities if we hope to win over the land (HCN, 4/4/94).

Contrary to writer Jim Bishop's assertions, the Grand Canyon Trust's approach to resolving environmental conflict is far from new in southern Utah. Prior to 1983, that was standard operating procedure and it led to the disastrous Forest Service wilderness bill that haunts us to this day. The most effective protection for southern Utah's federal lands came when activists elevated the conflicts occurring there from local to national issues. By raising national awareness and concern for our nationally owned lands and by relentlessly overseeing the Bureau of Land Management's policies, they have helped protect almost 6 million acres of defacto wilderness.

It took many years to convince the national groups to not treat southern Utah environmental conflict as a local issue, to stand up and say, "The role of environmental groups is to save the Colorado Plateau from the people who live there." I'm sure Ed Abbey is smiling knowing that Ed Norton and Bruce Babbitt find this attitude "arrogant, politically foolish and morally bankrupt."

Robert Weed

Escalante, Utah

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