Your Dec. 9 editorial takes an incredibly shortsighted stance on wilderness designation. We must look to the land we leave to the next generation. We cannot do as our predecessors along the Wasatch Front did. Twenty years ago no one, myself included, could visualize what our communities would be like today. We suffer traffic gridlock, increasing air pollution, and ever-decreasing access to the mountains which make our lives here possible. We all pay a price for our lack of planning.

Twenty years from now we will need more land protected than the mere 1.2 million acres proposed by Rep. Bill Orton. Fifty years from now our protected lands will be our most precious resource. Our generation has no right to squander this heritage.All Utahns today can look to the future. We can plan for a future with room to stretch out once in a while. Orton's plan will give each Utahn alive today less than half an acre of BLM wilderness. It will give each U.S. citizen less than a hundredth of an acre of BLM wilderness in Utah. With each passing decade that acreage will shrink dramatically. We can afford no less than 5.7 million acres. That is all that is left. Our wild lands verge on vanishing. In all those 5.7 million acres you can get no farther than eight miles from a road.

We must also look at the flawed process which excluded many wild and pristine areas from the BLM inventory. Unlike Sen. Bob Bennett's comment about not "reinventing that process" (as quoted in the Deseret News Sun., Dec. 19), we should demand a new inventory not subject to the flawed and basically dishonest process that resulted in the inadequate numbers being discussed by Orton. We should at least expect our representatives to demand an honest inventory of our wild lands.

Humans do need to use natural resources. One of our finest resources is wilderness. With 3.2 million acres administratively maintained as wilderness by the BLM, Utah's economy continues to grow. We do not suffer from wilderness, but we will suffer from a lack of wilderness. Wilderness protects watersheds, protects wildlife habitat, and aids in reducing air pollution. As our population grows we will need more of wilderness and its benefits. We will need wild places to walk with grandchildren, and for them to walk with theirs.

Wayne and Gail Hoskisson

Salt Lake City