To the editor:

Joe Bauman (Deseret News, Dec. 20) laments that 1988 passed and still there is no San Rafael National Park. He's right and that's too bad, because with each passing year more damage is wreaked upon the San Rafael by uncontrolled ORVs and other abusive land uses.But Bauman is incorrect when he claims the reason is because a San Rafael National Park "won't make money." In fact, one of the most powerful arguments for designating a national park on the San Rafael is the reality that economic vitality and land preservation must go hand in hand in today's world.

If Utah is to have a healthy, sustainable economy, it must recognize the necessity of preserving pristine landscapes. That is precisely why designating the San Rafael as Utah's sixth national park makes so much sense.

The San Rafael contains unsurpassed scenery, numerous threatened and endangered plant species, unique wildlife populations, and extensive opportunities for wilderness and developed recreation. Certainly it has the natural attributes that make it "national park" worthy.

It also has ready access to two state highways and Interstate 70, and contains hundreds of miles of roads, making easy access to the areas natural features.

With limited additional development to facilitate visitor use, the San Rafael can absorb any negative impacts from park designation.

By capitalizing on the visibility and increased visitation that national park designation will bring, local communities like Castle Dale, Ferron, Huntington, Price and Green River can "make money" and add diversity and stability to their long range economic goals.

Indeed, with over one million cars traveling I-70 annually through the Swell and its close proximity to the Wasatch Front, the San Rafael could rapidly become one of Utah's most popular parks.

By preserving the wild areas and controlling use to prevent damage in other areas, we can protect and enhance the natural values Bauman and the rest of us are concerned about. At the same time, we can show that land preservation is a key to a sustainable economy for Utah's future.

There's no question the San Rafael's fragile, yet beautiful, landscape will benefit from this approach.

George Nickas

Assistant coordinator

Utah Wilderness Association