Making good on a threat to organize a national protest, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club have taken their fight against oil drilling in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to a higher court - the court of public opinion.

The two environmental organizations took out a full-page ad in the New York Times last week with a banner headline reading, "Don't let DuPont destroy America's newest national monument."DuPont is the parent corporation of Conoco.

"We ran the ad because we are elevating awareness about Con-oco's intention to intrude upon the new national monument," said Mike Matz, SUWA's executive director.

The ad got the attention of state lawmakers, who say it is just another example of environmentalists attacking something based on emotion rather than facts. They point out Conoco's plan to drill an exploratory well is on a parcel of state school trust land, not on federal lands actually designated a national monument.

And they say an advertisement placed in an Eastern newspaper is just another example of how those outside Utah are trying to dictate what can and cannot be done in Utah.

The SUWA ad claims "the monument will be defaced by DuPont as early as this month, as the corporation defies the intent of the president's proclamation." It calls on Americans to call DuPont and "tell the giant to cancel all plans to drill" in the monument.

"Our intent is to make Conoco realize that drilling is unacceptable," Matz said. SUWA may run additional advertisements in other national newspapers.

The ad, which features a large photograph of an oil well, listed DuPont's toll-free number. Matz said DuPont now refers all calls directly to Conoco.

Last month, Conoco was granted permission by the state to drill an exploratory well near the Reese and Navajo canyons on the Kaiparowits Plateau. Because the permit is for state lands, environmental groups have fewer grounds to challenge the decision.

The real battle will be over whether Conoco can drill for oil on federal lands. The company owns numerous gas and oil leases acquired two years ago, before the national monument was created. Conoco has insisted it will determine if there is oil in the region. If there is oil, Concoco could harvest the crude or trade for oil reserves elsewhere.