Having spent some time over the past five years wandering through Utah's spectacular BLM land, I can only come to one conclusion - it is wilderness. Alone or accompanied with friends, I have trod many areas of the redrock desert, including the San Rafael Swell, Escalante Canyons, Kaiparowits Plateau, Dirty Devil River, Henry Mountains and La Sal Canyons. I've been awed and overcome by the magnificence of God's creation and compelled to fight for the right of this land to retain its natural splendor. To exploit wilderness for economic and commercial gain seems unconscionable to me.

So I heartily support the proposed bill (HR1500) to set aside 5.7 million acres of designated wilderness in Utah. It's a moderate proposal. Congress recently passed the California Desert Protection Act setting aside 7.5 million acres of BLM land as designated wilderness there, raising the total wilderness acreage in that state to almost 14 million. Shamefully, Utah has the lowest designated wilderness (only 802,000 acres) of any Western state.Is there something in the soul of our citizens that is antagonistic to unspoiled nature? Have we been brainwashed into viewing the Earth merely as a "natural resource" to be consumed? Or have we become too lax in our political responsibility, taking for granted that our elected officials will naturally act in our best interests?

Even if I were not a supporter of wilderness, I would still actively oppose, on principle alone, the alternative bill Gov. Mike Leavitt is generating. This bill has to be one of the most anti-democratic pieces of political engineering ever attempted. The governor has solicited wilderness recommendations only from counties containing proposed wilderness - a mere 13 percent of Utah's population.

The majority of Utah citizens, which includes many recreational users of BLM lands from the Wasatch Front, were deliberately and blatantly shut out of the recommendation process. What has happened to the representative form of government designed by our Founding Fathers to protect the will of the majority against the vested interests of the few?

Scott Kadera