Utah wilderness bill under way

  Utah's congressional delegation has once again promised a Utah BLM wilderness bill, and this time - to the dismay of environmentalists - it may be able to deliver. Gov. Mike Leavitt, representatives Enid Greene Waldholtz, Jim Hansen, and Bill Orton (the lone Democrat), and senators Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch are all working on a proposal they hope will be ready by June 1. Guidelines for the bill say the agency's estimate of 3.2 million acres of potential wilderness is final; no more can be added. Environmentalists have long claimed that many qualified lands were excluded from the inventory, and that the agency should go through the process again. Although no one is talking acreage yet for the new bill, environmentalists expect it will be less than 1 million acres. The delegation also insists that the bill permanently release all potential wilderness lands not included in the bill to "multiple use" management. Such "hard release" language has never made it into a wilderness bill before. Environmentalists are backing an alternative wilderness bill that would protect 5.7 million acres of roadless BLM land. New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D, is the sponsor of the alternative bill, which attracted more than 70 co-sponsors last year. To find out about public meetings, contact your local county commission or call Andrea Olson at the Governor's office at 801/538-1696. Utah's congressional delegation has once again promised a Utah BLM wilderness bill, and this time - to the dismay of environmentalists - it may be able to deliver. Gov. Mike Leavitt, representatives Enid Greene Waldholtz, Jim Hansen, and Bill Orton (the lone Democrat), and senators Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch are all working on a proposal they hope will be ready by June 1. Guidelines for the bill say the agency's estimate of 3.2 million acres of potential wilderness is final; no more can be added. Environmentalists have long claimed that many qualified lands were excluded from the inventory, and that the agency should go through the process again. Although no one is talking acreage yet for the new bill, environmentalists expect it will be less than 1 million acres. The delegation also insists that the bill permanently release all potential wilderness lands not included in the bill to "multiple use" management. Such "hard release" language has never made it into a wilderness bill before. Environmentalists are backing an alternative wilderness bill that would protect 5.7 million acres of roadless BLM land. New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D, is the sponsor of the alternative bill, which attracted more than 70 co-sponsors last year. To find out about public meetings, contact your local county commission or call Andrea Olson at the Governor's office at 801/538-1696.
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