Your editorial purporting to know how much wilderness "most Utahns want" (Dec. 12) was highly presumptuous. This Utahn believes that the state's formally protected and de facto wilderness enhances both Utah's growing economy and its superb quality of life. Failure to protect Utah's wilderness may allow a few individuals and corporations to reap short-term profits from federal lands and resources. The rest of us, however, will lose the tremendous aesthetic, recreational and long-term economic benefits that wilderness resources provide.

Traditionally, Utahns want what is best for their children. I want to preserve a Utah in which my 3-year-old son and his soon-to-be-born sister can still hike pristine mountains and run wild rivers. I want to preserve for them federal wilderness lands that support healthy, natural populations of fish and wildlife. I want to leave them significant parts of a Utah unscarred by the legacies of mining, logging, and other industrial activities that have ruined the natural values and the economies of other states.For these reasons, I support the citizens' proposal to designate 5.7 million acres of federal land as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Michele Straube

Salt Lake City