Utah escapes missiles

The U.S. Army has decided not to proceed with a plan to launch ballistic missiles from Green River, Utah, and shoot them down over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The decision, announced March 21, "is great news for southern Utah," says Scott Groene, an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Groene says determined public opposition to the proposal forced the Army to back down. The Army, however, said it abandoned the Green River site because of "significant land-use problems' associated with the dropping of 1-ton missile boosters near Canyonlands National Park (HCN, 8/22/94). The Army still plans to launch missiles from Fort Wingate, Ariz., to White Sands. The boosters would land near the Cibola National Forest in western New Mexico, but both the Forest Service and private land owners in the area have "expressed a willingness' to allow the drops, the Army says. Some local opponents dispute that claim. Mary Lou Jones of the Zuni Mountain Coalition says, "I went to the public hearings and nobody spoke in favor of the missiles." Jones says the Army selected Fort Wingate and a second site off the Kwajalein Islands in the South Pacific "because we're the brownest populations."

* Paul Larmer