Environmentalists are praising congressional appropriations conferees for stopping a last-minute effort to study paving southern Utah's scenic Burr Trail.

However, Garfield County officials say the defeat will have no effect on their efforts to improve the 66-mile road."This action reflects proud public support for protecting the wild resources of the Colorado Plateau," said Brant Calkin, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

During consideration of the fiscal year 1991 Interior Appropriations Bill last week, the Senate added a provision that would make $350,000 available to conduct a study on paving the Burr Trail.

On Saturday, the conferees removed the Senate language and Congress passed the bill.

But County Commission Chairman Tom Hatch said whether or not the federal funding is eventually forthcoming, doesn't matter. He said the county already has been successful in improving the first 29 miles of the road from Boulder to Capitol Reef.

"Why the Sierra Club and SUWA would be calling that (the congressional action) a victory is kind of ludicrous because they have been saying all along that no work should proceed until an EIS is completed and this money was strictly for an EIS," he added.