Run over by a political juggernaut in their state, Utah's environmental groups are trying to dust themselves off and sound a nationwide alarm. The state's congressional delegation has united in pushing a bill that most environmentalists see as disastrous. It would make 1.8 million acres of Bureau of Land Management wilderness official, but release at least that many acres - some of the largest blocks of wild land remaining in the nation - to multiple uses, including dam-building, new roads, mining and other development. "This issue is the equivalent of dams in the Grand Canyon or strip-mining Yellowstone," says Tom Price, organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Suddenly Utah's environmentalists are scrambling for allies outside the state to stall the bill. "We're moving (the struggle) to Washington," Price says. It's shaping up to be one of the first big tests of how environmental issues will fare in the new Congress.


*Ray Ring