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The wilderness selection process established by Gov. Mike Leavitt and Utah's congressional delegation is a failure. It has attempted to disenfranchise 87 percent of Utah's population - the people who live with 13 counties that did not hold public hearings by the April 1 deadline.

I noticed that Box Elder County, in which I was born and raised, was one of these counties that was not holding public hearings. Therefore, I requested time at the March 28 county commission meeting to address the issue. I asked commissioners Lee Allen, Royal Norman, and Jay Hardy why they had not held public hearings on the approximately 25,000 acres of wilderness proposed under House Resolution 1500 within Box Elder County.I was told they did not believe the people of Box Elder County supported wilderness (I have spoken to many who do); therefore, in their opinion, hearings were not necessary. Prior to my allotted time to speak, Commissioner Allen read a letter from San Juan County Commissioner Ty Lewis asking for contributions from county governments to an anti-wilderness lobbyist organization called the Utah Wilderness Education Project. All three commissioners voted to give $500 of taxpayer revenue to this group.

Does anyone see the conflict of interest besides myself? Obviously, other county commissioners charged by the delegation to recommend wilderness areas within their counties have been tainted with involvement with this group.

Anyone with their eyes open should be able to see that Leavitt and the congressional delegation have intentionally put those people who they know are opposed to significant wilderness designation in the forefront of the selection process. If the delegation continues to follow the precedent they have set, they then will submit a bill that falsely represents the majority of Utahns.

I ask the citizens of this state to demand a system for wilderness selection that fairly represents the people of Utah, not the representatives of foreign extractive industries such as Jim Hansen and certain county commissioners.

Brad Yates

Salt Lake City