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Know the West

SUWA goes national

  From redrock canyons to sagebrush prairies, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers 177 million acres in the lower 48 states. About 5 million acres - or 3 percent - are currently protected as wilderness. The National BLM Wilderness Campaign, a new project of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), is lobbying the administration to protect far more roadless lands - 60 million acres. Reaching beyond Utah, the campaign aims at coordinating the efforts of local wilderness groups as it collects roadless information to present to BLM managers. SUWA says people need to move quickly: "The BLM controls more land in the West than the Forest Service or the Park Service," says campaign director Scott Groene, "and much of it is threatened by oil and gas development and off-road vehicles." Not satisfied with the amount of wilderness recommended by the agency in a 1991 assessment, the group is asking administrators to re-inventory BLM land for wilderness quality, withdraw unprotected areas from new development, and rewrite individual management plans to protect areas with wilderness characteristics.

For more information about the campaign, contact the National BLM Wilderness Campaign, 1471 South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, 801/486-2728, or visit www.BLMwilderness.org.