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The U.S. Forest Service called Tuesday's meeting at Woods Cross High School an "information open house," designed to educate people about that agency's role in approving a portion of the Wyoming-California pipeline route.

A pipeline opponent called it a "haphazard conglomeration of information.""It looks to me more like a pipeline company open house," said Dave Soutter, pointing to tables set up by Kern River Gas Transmission Co. and Wy-Cal Pipeline Co., which are competing to build a 900-mile natural gas pipeline from Wyoming to California. The large-capacity, high-pressure pipeline would come over the mountains east of Bountiful, skirt the south Davis County bench and then head west and south through Salt Lake County.

Whatever Tuesday night's meeting was, about 100 citizens attended it, but many interviewed by the Deseret News were disappointed.

Rather than addressing a panel as in a traditional public hearing, citizens strolled from table to table in the high school's cafeteria, talking to the pipeline companies, the Forest Service, public officials and politicians.

Though not invited to do so, the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association, of which Sout-ter is a member, quickly set up its own information table.

"Whoever organized this did a masterful job of blunting a confrontation by breaking it into five camps," said Ralph Mitchell, a North Salt Lake resident.

But Forest Service spokesman Dick Kline said it was his agency's intent to provide information to the public, which can then address any "significant new issues" by writing a letter to the forest supervisor.

However, the Forest Service appears ready to amend its plan to allow the pipeline to pass through a few miles of forest above Bountiful.

"Unless new issues emerge that require further evaluation, the Forest Service will amend the plan," according to a Forest Service letter distributed to citizens Tuesday night.

The Forest Service decisionmaking process may be influenced, however, by a letter sent to the agency's chief in Washington D.C., by Rep. Peter Kostmayer, D-Pa., who chaired a congressional oversight investigation into the pipeline controversy.

In the letter, Kostmayer said he believes the "Wasatch Variation" route of the pipeline is not the best alternative and that the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act was subverted by the process that led to the selection of the Wasatch Front route.

Small debates erupted. In one corner, Bountiful resident Jim Barclay, who said he moved out of Magna to escape the government's deceit over the Kennecott tailings, was cursing representatives of Kern River as socially irresponsible.

"You should move it. That would be the honorable thing to do," Barclay told a Kern River representative, who tried to explain the route is the only one approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In still another corner, Kenley Brunsdale, a Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Jim Hansen, sparred with the Bountiful mayor and city manager, whom Brunsdale accused of backing off in their fight against the pipeline.

The Bountiful officials explained that their attorney said a court appeal is not winnable.

Brunsdale then criticized the attorney for not attending a certain hearing.

"That's a cheap shot, Kenley, and I resent it," said Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy. "We didn't pay him $100,000 not to go to those hearings."

Bountiful Mayor Bob Linnell, when asked why the city won't join Brunsdale and the citizens group in an appeal, said he doesn't want to drag the issue and the city into Brunsdale's political ambitions.

Hardy, however, said he wants Brunsdale to win the appeal.

Citizens have until July 10, 1990, to send written comments to the Forest Service. Address: Forest Supervisor, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 8236 Federal Building, 125 S. State, Salt Lake City, UT 84138.