The U.S. is in danger of losing all that it stands for if it continues to practice "the worship of nature," according to a fourth-generation rancher from Ruby Valley, Nev.

Cliff Gardner, speaking at the Utah County Farm Bureau's 1991 Banquet, said that increasing government intrusion into ranching and farming lifestyles are usually spawned by misconceptions that radical environmentalists have."What they (environmentalists) don't realize is that they are capable of destroying our great country - as the great city of Rome was destroyed - if they continue to take away our God-given rights," Gardner said Thursday at the Utah Valley Community College ballroom.

For example, environmentalists have persuaded government officials to disallow use of predator-control programs and to restrict cattlemen's use of federally and state-owned ranges, even though such measures may return those areas to their original desert-like complexions, he said.

"You only have to go back into history to disprove everything that the environmentalists are claiming. So often you can confront them with facts to destroy their myths."

Gardner said his experience as a board member of the National Federal Land Conference, and on several soil conservation districts and cattlemen's associations has given him valuable insight into wildlife and range concerns. He said research he has conducted for the last two years has revealed that many areas in the western U.S. were dry and barren deserts before pioneers settled the lands and turned them into green pastures.

"All the concerns that the government has for range lands always seem to be faulty. I've been alarmed for many years at the way government is intruding on land ranges and dictating what to do to the cattlemen and dairymen - and on our lands."

Gardner said the country's founders wrote protections for landowners because they understood the importance of private property rights.