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NEW DRIVE ASKS UTAHNS TO SAFEGUARD PUBLIC LANDS

SHARE NEW DRIVE ASKS UTAHNS TO SAFEGUARD PUBLIC LANDS

State and federal officials used $125,000 gleaned from various budgets and in-kind services from KSL Television to kick off a "Take Pride in Utah" campaign aimed at protecting public lands.

Speaking from the Box Elder picnic area of Mill Creek Canyon, an area highly publicized for its degradation due to vandalism, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson launched the new public-awareness campaign Tuesday. It is aimed at strengthening outdoor ethics among Utahns of all ages and visitors to the state.State and federal officials say abuses of public land, such as vandalism, litteringand campground damage, are increasing in Utah. No one group is responsible for the damage, but everyone can control it, campaign promoters believe.

"The $125,000 is seed money for some of the hard costs to get the program going. We look for it to be self-sustaining over time," said Oveson, who is the chairman of the Take Pride in Utah Committee.

Participating federal agencies are the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Soil Conservation Service. State agencies are the departments of Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Health, Natural Resources, Transportation and the State Office of Education. Private agencies participating are the Utah Association of Counties and the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisor Susan Giannettino told a gathering of public officials, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in the canyon that the Forest Service needs the users of public lands to help take care of the state's natural resources. "We control 8 million acres in the state. We need the help of all residents if we are going to take care of public lands."

Oveson said the public money in the campaign doesn't represent an appropriation from the entities involved but rather a gleaning of their various budgets.

Education is the primary objective of the campaign, which will include television public-service announcements, seminars and other kinds of publicity. Cleanup projects will also play a role in the program. The group has already made arrangements to have more than 500 units of Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Explorer Scouts converge on campgrounds in the Antelope Flats area of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to participate in a three-day campground cleanup project.