This year's about to become history. "About time," some may say. It was, as all are, a year of highs and lows, good and bad. However, 1994 seemed to have reached a little higher at times and dip a little lower at other times.

It was, to many, a frustrating year - even depressing with respect to Utah's wildlife. Too often, concern for wildlife was pushed aside to satisfy someone's personal interests. One can only hope such practices stop, but that's not too likely.But there were some positive notes, too. It was a good year for fishing, skiing and recreation.

Wildlife took the hardest hit in 1994, starting with the forced reorganization of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and ending with this year's deer hunt. Recovery for both will be slow and long.

Under the reorganization, 11 lost their jobs, but more than 50 were pushed out of their chosen fields and into new positions - in many cases into areas they did not feel qualified for or in jobs they had little interest in.

Many good employees, tired of the political games, left for other jobs in other states.

The Gov. Mike Leavitt's choice of deer-hunt plans ranks high among the lows. Proof, again, that politicians should stick to the matter they know about rather than try to fool voters into thinking they about things they don't. It was a disaster.

Bottom line is that the DWR lost $1.2 million, which may ultimately result in ever great losses in wildlife programs, and thousands of hunters, many of whom may never be back.

The continued spread of whirling disease during 1994 also fits on the low list. Not only did it spread by natural means, but there were instances where it was intentionally spread, obviously by a person or persons who would benefit from expanded contamination, like the person or persons who introduced it into Utah in the first place.

Fishing, for the most part, rates a high for the year.

Highest on the list was Strawberry Reservoir. It was, as was predicted, a virtual "wishing well" of big fish this year. Hardly four years into its re-birth, fish in the three-pound class were commonplace, while some up to 10 pounds were hooked regularly. Thousands upon thousands of hours of quality fishing time were recorded.

Mid-summer there was the walleye scare at Strawberry, which could have spoiled everything. Thank goodness, it didn't pan out.

Lake Powell rose again to become tops on the recreational and fishing charts for Utah. This year, not only did it give up limitless numbers of striped bass, but also smallmouth, largemouth and some crappie. These are fish now on the upswing there. Good fishing could be found most any time.

Water levels at Lake Powell also continued to rise this summer, which added to the overall recreational opportunities. It was, again, the No. 1 recreational center for Utah.

After years of being bogged down, Utah's waterfowl hunt got unstuck this past fall. Hunting on opening day was especially good, considering that since the flooding in the 1980s, openers have been somewhat marginal.

There were more ducks, more hunters and overall better success.

Especially pleasing was the surprising success of a call for Utah sportsmen to gather, which was put out by Don Peay of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. Uncharacteristically, they answered . . . And they came. Asked to show up on the Capitol steps to show their displeasure at the treatment of wildlife programs to Legislators, more than 3,000 showed up. It was said to be the third largest rally ever to assemble on the front steps. And it did what it was supposed to do - send a message to politicians to listen-up and show more support for wildlife programs.

Skiing ended and started up again on good notes. The end of the 1993-94 season showed only a slight drop in skiers from the record season one year earlier. More than 2.8 million skier days were recorded by the 14 Utah resorts.

And the start of the 1994-95 season saw a record snowfall in November, more than 200 inches. If the season continues at its current pace, 1994-95 will certainly be a new record for ski business.

Along with that are the high marks given to the Utah Olympic bid proposal by the International Olympic Committee this month.

Snowmobilers, for the most part, had a good year, although not as good as the previous year, which recorded near-record depths of snow covering in many places.

Summer was a great time for outdoor activities, like hiking, biking and camping.

Sporting goods stores dealing with outdoor goods, like tents and mountain bikes and fishing equipment, posted record or near-record sales in 1994, in some cases nearly double over the previous year.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely a few lows won't show up in 1995. Hopefully, though, we all learned something from 1994. And, the same mistakes won't be repeated.