Since most of the discussion on how much wilderness there should be in Utah has centered on the acreage, the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday adopted some recommendations on other issues such as water rights, buffer zones and fire control that could lead to a solution.
The recommendations were made by Don Leonard, co-chairman of the chamber's Congressional Relations Committee, who said the number of wilderness acres is always at the forefront of news stories and it was about time that someone addressed other issues.J. James Peacock, Utah Petroleum Association executive director, applauded the committee's recommendations and said it was one of the first reports to tackle the side wilderness issues. "If we take care of these issues the acreage will take care of itself," he said.
Leonard said he has discussed the recommendations with Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, who advocates 5.4 million acres of wilderness in Utah and found him willing to discuss them. The Bureau of Land Management is suggesting 1.9 million acres of wilderness for Utah while Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, wants the acreage limited to 1.4 million.
A vote on the recommendations produced some levity because Salt Lake County Commissioner Jim Bradley voted against the proposal in a loud voice. The only trouble is Bradley isn't a member of the board.
Here are the recommendations adopted by the board:
- Federal lands not formally designated as wilderness must be totally released from current wilderness management into management for multiple use.
- Wilderness legislation for lands in Utah should clearly state the legal and technical sufficiency and adequacy of the wilderness review and study process.
- There should be no wilderness reserved water rights, state or implied, in a Utah wilderness act. Wilderness legislation should include specific language precluding creation of wilderness reserve water rights in or for wilderness area in Utah.
- Wilderness legislation should include language expressly prohibiting creation of buffer zones, integral vistas or other such restrictions on lands outside formally designated wilderness areas.
- Whenever state-owned land is inside an area that is to be designated wilderness, the state should trade for lands of equal value outside the area.
- Legislation designating BLM wilderness areas in Utah should recognize valid existing rights such as mining claims and grazing permits and allow them to be fully exercised and utilized.
- Wilderness legislation should include language to allow overflights for specific resources management and tourism purposes.
- Wilderness legislation must either exclude watershed lands or be written to allow watershed management and allow use of mechanized equipment when necessary. Mechanized fire control also should be allowed when deemed appropriate by the management plan.
- The process of review of Utah lands for possible wilderness designation must include enhanced mineral valuation data quality.
- The process of determining which BLM lands should be designated wilderness should include not just wilderness criteria, but should take into account the socio-economic impact of the wilderness designation.