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To the editor:

Joseph Bauman, the Deseret News' mouthpiece for radical environmentalist obstructionists, on April 17 expressed dismay and outrage on behalf of lawyer Mike Heyrend of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Heyrend, Bauman relates, " . . . tried to exercise his right as an American to hike in Arch Canyon in San Juan County." But he was hassled by a group of four-wheelers, who also wanted to exercise their American rights to use the road.Heyrend told them, according to Bauman, "This road is closed to off-road vehicles. Legally, you guys can't go up." The jeepsters, logically, were somewhat incensed at the lawyer's attempted interference, and apparently told him impolitely that they intended to use the public road. Heyrend and Bauman claimed that the road was closed because it entered a wilderness study area and was not a public road.

On May 1, according to the Associated Press, the BLM area manager released a formal opinion that this road, on which Heyrend claimed a right to hike but attempted to deny access by vehicles, is in fact a county road. San Juan County knew this all along, having maintained and used it for many years. The jeepsters knew it, too.

Obviously, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance decided all by itself that the Arch Canyon road should be closed. This is the kind of arrogant, officious and illegal action we can expect from the environmental extremists who insist upon locking away public lands from every legitimate user, except themselves. Which public road will be the next SUWA target?

Deseret News readers and the public in general deserve apologies from Bauman and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for this insolent attempt to prevent legitimate public use of a public road.

Not surprisingly, SUWA, having failed in its first arrogant attempt to close Arch Canyon road, is planning to appeal the BLM area manager's ruling. Interminable and costly litigation is just one more insidious tactic of the environmental extremists.

Gordon Parker


Western Association of Land Users

Joseph Bauman replies:

Besides calling names, Gordon Parker misquotes me. He says, "Heyrend and Bauman claimed that the road was closed because it entered a wilderness study area, and was not a public road."

I never said Arch Canyon was a wilderness study area, and I'd be amazed if Heyrend did, because he also must know it is not a WSA.

What I did say, in a story printed last year about Arch Canyon, is that it is part of the wilderness bill sponsored by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah. I wrote, "The canyon is not presently an official Area of Critical Environmental Concern, he (BLM official Alex VanHemert) said, but it's being considered for such a designation. Also, it is not one of the BLM's wilderness study areas, although environmentalists have long contended it should be."