Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said Wednesday that his version of a wilderness bill for Bureau of Land Management lands in Utah probably would propose about 839,000 acres.
But he said the bill is still being drafted based on consultation with commissions in the affected counties, Gov. Norm Bangerter and Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch, both R-Utah.Nielson said he is chagrined that data on his bill got out before work was complete and generated opposition from wilderness groups. He said he did not plan to coordinate with such groups, one of which called the Nielson bill a "95-pound weakling."
If the Nielson proposal includes 839,000 acres, it would be the smallest wilderness plan yet offered in terms of acreage.
"Big is not always better," Nielson said.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has proposed putting 1.4 million acres into wilderness. The BLM is expected to suggest 1.9 million, while Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, has suggested 5.2 million acres.