In your anti-wilderness editorial (Dec. 9) you stated 3.2 million acres of wilderness is "more than most Utahns want." I'm a Utahn and I think 3.2 million acres of wilderness is inadequate. That's why I support the citizens wilderness bill: HR1500. I want 5.7 million acres of wilderness. And I am not alone. The bipartisan congressional support of HR1500 shows how broad is the base of support for wilderness.

On one hand you decry the wide disparity in the number of acres of wilderness between the various proposals before Congress, and you say Congress is "no closer than ever to making a decision." Yet on the other hand you want Congress to hurry up and "get down to the business of settling the wilderness question once and for all." The disparity in the numbers shows that more discussion and debate must take place about wilderness, not less.In your opinion, "Congress has a responsibility to finally draw a reasonable balance (between wilderness and non-wilderness acreage) that recognizes the needs of man and nature." The issue is not to find some abstract Platonian balance between man and nature. The issue is: Whose needs will be recognized?

The wilderness issue in Utah concerns federal public lands - not states' rights and not personal-property rights. Federal public land is owned by every citizen of the United States. It is not simply the concern of rural Utahns or of the stockholders of foreign-owned mineral corporations. Twenty-two million acres of federal public land in Utah already is available to oil companies, ranchers, coal companies and water districts. Of what little federal public land remains wilderness in Utah, it is not inconceivable that the American people would like to preserve in its pristine state 5.7 million acres.

Relatively few people in this country have ever or will ever use the public land they own in Utah for ranching or mining. However, many people across the country could enjoy using their public land for recreation, supporting wildlife, or simply for ensuring that all of the wild places do not disappear from the lower 48.

Mary C. Cline

Salt Lake City