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The Utah BLM wilderness review process started with 22 million acres of land to inventory. Of this, HR1745 recommends less than 10 percent for wilderness. Worse yet, the bill fails to protect the minimal acreage it designates as wilderness and then allows absolutely no protection of the 20 million acres not designated.

HR1745 is co-sponsored by Rep. Enid Waldholtz, even though it is a blatant anti-wilderness bill that would designate a mere 1.8 million acres of wilderness. Waldholtz has indicated her intent to add 350,000 acres of wilderness to the bill. While this is a step in the right direction, it is a smoke screen that fails to address the more serious problems of the bill.By allowing dams, ORVs, roads and pipelines into areas the bill would designate as "wilderness," the bill attempts to create a new class of pseudo-wilderness that makes Utah wilderness second class in protection compared to all other wilderness in other states. The bill would even prohibit the federal government from maintaining water necessary for plants and wildlife in wilderness areas. These provisions demonstrate either ignorance or contempt for wilderness and nature.

The hard-release language of the bill would preclude any protection of natural features in areas the bill does not designate as wilderness. Every square inch of the remaining 20 million plus acres must be opened to ORVs, mining, roads and any and every other type of development. This is a bill that ignores the will of residents of Utah and gives away the heritage of future generations. The bill shows that Waldholtz is more sympathetic to members of the cowboy caucus than to residents of her own district.

I am a hard-working, productive member of society. I was drawn to Utah by its incredible, spectacular and diverse wilderness, as were many of my friends. I have lived in Utah for 16 years now and have paid a lot of taxes. I am also owner of a Utah-based business that makes outdoor recreation products. This business, like many other small local businesses, is dependent on the outdoor recreation opportunities that drew us here.

Michael Budig

Salt Lake City