Utah's wilderness debate is heating up, with an anti-wilds umbrella group adding four organizations to its ranks and a pro-wilds group adding nearly 600 citizen members.
C. Booth Wallentine, chairman of the Utah Public Land Multiple Use Coalition, announced four groups joined the organization: the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Utah Water Users Association, Utah Association of Conservation Districts and the Utah-Idaho Farmers Union.They bring to 14 the number of groups in the organization, he said.
"Our objective is to help Utahns understand that federal designation of wilderness is not the best way to protect our natural resources," Wallentine said. "Moreover, such designations usually result in reduced tourism and severely restrict job growth in a state like Utah, which is so dependent on development of natural resources."
Brant Calkin, director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said his group has added almost 600 new members in 1988. Calkin, completing his first year in the position, credits SUWA's more aggressive contract with users of public lands, plus a public reaction against the anti-wilderness publicity.
"Wilderness is a popular idea and the public reacts to anti-wilderness outbursts by supporting the groups that are fighting for wilderness," he said.