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Know the West

Writers for Utah wilderness

  We are not, of course, in dire need of roads, transmission towers, dams, reservoirs, and gas pipelines. We are in dire need of courtesy. We are in dire need of a broadly intelligent conversation about human fate. We are in need of a thorough and piercing review of our plan for economic development, a plan that at best is a hugely expensive speculation about human needs.

*Barry Lopez, Testimony

Testimony, a collection of essays and poems by 20 Western writers, includes pieces as broad as the one by Barry Lopez on the economics of wilderness and as precise and personal as a description by Stephen Trimble of his favorite slickrock canyon.

Not for sale, it's a book with a mission: To influence legislators to vote down Utah's wilderness bill, H.R. 1745, considered an anti-wilderness bill by environmentalists because of its small acreage proposal, special language allowing development inside wilderness areas, and hard release language prohibiting future wilderness designations. The book was distributed to legislators following a Sept. 27 press conference. Editors Terry Tempest Williams and Stephen Trimble say their inspiration for the project came from Wallace Stegner's classic "Wilderness Letter," sent to the Kennedy administration in 1960, urging the designation of wilderness areas.

As T.H. Watkins points out in his essay, art and literature were used persuasively more than 120 years ago, when wilderness fans collected scientific evidence, lyrical descriptions and the lush paintings of Thomas Moran into a packet of information "that they waved into the faces of presumably amazed and astounded senators and representatives until the lawmakers did the right thing: Yellowstone National Park."

For more information, contact Writers for the Utah Wilderness, P.O. Box 1078, Salt Lake City, UT 84110-1078.

* Elizabeth Manning