The Dec. 12 Deseret News editorial regarding wilderness designation contained misstatements and fallacies about the nature of wilderness and about the unique nature of Utah's precious heritage.

The editorial stated: "Restricting land (the San Rafael Swell) around a busy freeway (I-70) by declaring it off-limits to motor vehicles seems a bit illogical." This is equivalent to saying that Mount Olympus, Twin Peaks, Lone Peak and Mount Timpanogos should not be protected as Wilderness because I-80 and U.S. 189 cross the Wasatch Mountains. This type of nonsense argument was heard during the debate on the 1984 wilderness bill and an all-Republican delegation was able to see the value of protecting these areas that overlook the urbanized Wasatch Front.The San Rafael region is larger and much less developed than the Wasatch. Walking in a wild and natural canyon such as the Lower Black Box is a challenging wilderness experience. The fact that I-70 is two straight-line miles away means nothing when you are following a primitive route defined by the unclimbable canyon walls.

The editorial also referred to using "natural resources to sustain burgeoning cities." This is exactly why we need to preserve large intact natural areas. The original Wilderness Act of 1964 recognized the importance of preserving some small part of America from ever-spreading development and urbanization. Since then, the U.S. population has exploded by about 70 million people and wild areas have continued to shrink.

In October, the Canyon Country Zephyr reproduced a 1934 road map of southern Utah. A glance at how much the state has been altered in the last 60 years provides a different interpretation of the editorial's call for "reasonable balance" between wilderness and roaded lands. Balance should be based on historical, national and global perspectives and not on a county-by-county allocation of the limited wild areas that have survived until today.

John Veranth

Salt Lake City