For the second time within a month, an umbrella group representing thousands of Utah hunters and conservationists has endorsed substantial wilderness protection for the Bureau of Land Management's holdings in the state.

In late December, the Utah Wildlife Leadership Coalition endorsed a proposal to create 3.8 million acres of BLM wilderness.The Utah Wildlife Federation endorsed that proposal and more on Tuesday afternoon - endorsing the protection of 4.2 million acres of BLM wilderness.

This is much larger than the BLM's preliminary recommendation of 1.9 million acres, but considerably less than the 5.1 million acres supported by the Utah Wilderness Coalition. And the Utah Public Lands Multiple Use Coalition wants no wilderness.

Verl Davis, Utah Wildlife Federation president, said his organization is made up of 24 affiliate clubs and 3,000 directly sustaining members.

"We need to let the politicians as well as the public know that the sportsmen and conservationists do have opinions on wilderness," Davis said.

One significant new proposal is that the federation has added Red Butte Canyon. Until now, it was a special military preserve, generally closed to the public. But with the pending closure of Fort Douglas, the federation feels it should be protected.

Davis called Red Butte "a pristine area" that retains the character it had when the pioneers arrived in 1847.

The federation also wants to assure that desert bighorn sheep are protected through wilderness designation. "The herds are going downhill very dramatically in the southern area of the state," he said.