Environmental extremists have now checked in with their "new and improved" wilderness demand. The Utah Wilderness Coalition now demands that 8.5 million acres of public land be devoted to their solitary recreational pleasure. In fact, they are demanding 9.4 million acres become wilderness also. As such, the new demand represents the boldest recent expression of hedonism from the wealthy and religiously fervent "Me First" generation.

In the past decade, the Bureau of Land Management took 10 years, spent $8 million, conducted perhaps hundreds of public meetings and considered thousands of public comments in the course if its statewide wilderness review. The agency recommended 1.9 million acres.Now Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt has loosed a tiny cadre of a dozen or so trusted lieutenants to redo what the BLM did a decade ago. Babbitt's wilderness team has flown the state in helicopters with maps in their laps penciling circles around vast tracts that catch their eye from 2,000 feet just as their ground-based UWC brethren have done. What do you want to bet that his "new and improved" figure will be right at or above 5 million acres? With a 5 million acre "finding," Babbitt will be able to claim he has arrived at a "sensible balance" between the original "flawed" BLM inventory and the new upper extreme. If it is passed,the extremists will have gotten just what they wanted - something close to 5.7 million acres.

Guess who gets left out in this scenario? The people of course. Our founders warned us about the tyranny of factions who will apply their political acumen to capture the government and bring harm to the people who are paying little heed. Stand and take note, Utah. We are witnessing the ascendancy of faction right here, and there are precious few leaders, from the governor on down, who are willing to stand in defense of either reason or justice.

Wayne Hunt

Price