Land grant says wilderness hurts

  Land grant says

Wilderness hurts

A new study by Utah State University, a land-grant institution, concludes that federally designated wilderness could harm rural economies. The study, which features a picture of a paved road running through southern Utah on its cover, drew immediate praise from anti-wilderness groups. "This study validates what the counties in Utah have been saying for many years: There are huge economic costs associated with wilderness," said Mark Walsh, associate director of the Utah Association of Counties. But Ken Rait, spokesman for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, blasted the study for kowtowing to agriculture and industry. "It's shameful that an academic institution can be bought by special interests," Rait said. Don Snyder, chairman of Utah State's economics department, said his group of researchers worked assiduously to be free of bias. The report was released two weeks before rural county commissioners in Utah were scheduled to recommend to Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt how much Bureau of Land Management land should be designated wilderness. For a copy of Wilderness Designation in Utah: Issues and Potential Economic Impacts, write the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, USU, Logan, UT 84322-4810, or call 801/797-2310.

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