To the editor:
Commissioner Bill Redd of San Juan County set forth a reasoned discussion of the economic implication of direct congressional control of 5.7 million acres in rural Utah. He ended with a challenge to the self-styled environmental community to present their estimates of economic loss and foregone opportunities.Ken Rait, representing the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, responded with perhaps the most scathing personal attack seen in the Deseret News in recent times.
The commissioner observed that locking up this much land in the midst of Utah's oil, gas, coal and mineral provinces cannot avoid diminishment of economic opportunities. Furthermore, these 5.7 million acres capture 780,000 acres of school trust land, bringing the infamous Wayne Owens' proposal supported by SUWA to 6.5 million acres.
This is not all. One hundred and eighty thousand acres, including some 20,000 acres of school trust land were permanently withdrawn from mining on the Alton coal fields because the activity may have been visible from Bryce Canyon National Park. A similar denial of economic opportunity occurred in California to protect the view looking outward from a BLM wilderness study area.
Wayne Owens-SUWA would create 136 new wilderness areas, each surrounded by its own buffer zone as far as the eye can see or the ear hear. The buffer zones could easily affect as many acres as are locked up for direct congressional control.
Can any reasonable person truly believe that this massive expansion of federal control, specifically intended to restrict or eliminate commerce, won't adversely affect Utah's economy?
Both Owens and SUWA are among those who believe ever more in central governmental control as a solution to their perceived problems.
Western Association of Land Users