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To the editor:

The Legislature's recently passed "1.4 million-acre" wilderness resolution did more to stifle democracy than limit wilderness.Masquerading the bill as the only 1.4 million acres of BLM land in Utah that truly meets wilderness standards, the bill's sponsors "suspended the (Legislature's) rules" to rush the resolution through the Senate without benefit of a public hearing or informed floor debate. Never mind that not a single legislator could define where these "1.4 million acres" are found, nor what areas they were ignoring.

But that's not all. The legislative task force that prepared the resolution ignored its legal mandate to "conduct public hearings throughout the state" and "visit those areas . . . to determine whether wilderness designation is warranted." Not a single hearing was held, nor did the task force visit any areas. Given these shortcomings, no wonder public scrutiny of the resolution was avoided.

Honest people can certainly have legitimate differences of opinion on the values of wilderness. In a pluralistic society, those differences must be openly aired and an attempt made to meet as many interests as possible.

Unfortunately, the legislature chose the path of exclusionary, special interest politics. Since Congress ultimately decides what will be designated wilderness, the resolution is probably a futile gesture. Certainly, a lesson in democracy it wasn't.

George Nickas

Utah Wilderness Association