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Of Utah's 23 million acres of BLM land, more than three-quarters are already open to mining, development and motorized recreation. Now the commissioners of the counties covering these lands want to take over 4.7 million of the remaining 5.7 million acres.

Statistics, however, cannot do justice to this issue; it is the details that matter.Here is a list of some of the wild areas that will have no protection if the counties' recommendations are followed: Grand Gulch; Fish and Owl Creek canyons; White Canyon; Mount Ellen; North Escalante Canyons; Parunuweap Canyon; Muddy Creek; and the entire northern portion of the San Rafael Swell (north of I-70).

As a measure of the extremity of the counties' proposal, consider the 14 "best canyon hikes" in Michael Kelsey's Utah guidebook. Ten of these hikes lie within unprotected BLM roadless areas. How many of these 10 have the counties recommended for protection? One.

Daniel V. Schroeder