The Utah Wilderness Association says the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce board's recent vote against more wilderness designations in Utah shows the commercial group is out of touch with trends in the state.
The chamber action came Oct. 25 after statements against wilderness by Booth Wallentine, vice president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, and Mark Walsh, associate director of the Utah Association of Counties.The wilderness association quoted surveys indicating strong support for wilderness among Utahns.
"Myths such as you cannot hunt or camp in wilderness are wrong," said Dick Carter, the group's coordinator. He branded as "totally false" statements that trails are not maintained, or are left unsafe, and that signs are not permitted.
"Wilderness provides for outdoor recreation. Grazing is allowed, with predator control and valid rights guaranteed," he said. "The greatest myth of all is that wilderness is not multiple-use. It enhances, rather than detracts from our image. It represents an important heritage."
A letter from Carter to the Chamber's Fred Ball points out that Utah has 800,000 acres of wilderness, and predicts that further wilderness areas will be designated.
"Gov. Bangerter's recent position on wilderness, the broad-based support of wilderness throughout Utah, and the growing concern for a quality environment surrounding the Wasatch Front are all clear-cut signals that wilderness will play a pivotal role in our quality of life in the future," Carter wrote.
"The chamber is out of step with this clear movement in our society, and tragically it is out of step based on poor information."