Utahns live in a wonderful part of the world. This state's diversity of nature and geology can be found nowhere else in the world. It's a huge, unique and beautiful land. Unfortunately, they aren't making any more of it, and we need to protect our remaining wild places from those who would take them from us.

Right now, I believe the Utah Wilderness Coalition is the greatest threat to our natural treasure. They want to turn 8.5 million acres (a big percentage of Utah) into a museum. What will this "wilderness" museum mean to most of us? It means that you can look at it from a distance, but you can't touch.Wilderness designation for 8.5 million acres would mean that a few individuals in hiking sandals who have the time and stamina to hike into these areas for several days at a time would be the only ones who would ever get to enjoy it. The other 99.3 percent of us would be locked out forever. No dirt roads, no vehicles, no bicycles, no access.

A good example of the work of the wilderness proponents is the lawsuit by the Southern Utah Wilderness Association (SUWA, as in "we'll sue-a your pants off"),which forced the closure of the Salt Creek road in southern Canyonlands National Park. Remember majestic Angel Arch? It is now an 18-mile round-trip hike (on a dirt road) just to see it. And what about the trail head for the miles and miles of back country canyons beyond Angel Arch? Now it is an additional 16-mile walk just to get to the trail head and back. So if you want to see Angel Arch, buy a postcard.

Several years ago they were demanding 2 or 3 million acres for wilderness designation. Then it became 5.7 million acres. Now it is up to 8.5 million acres. Do you see a trend? Do you think they will be satisfied at just 8.5 million acres? The next step will be additional designation of areas that almost qualify as wilderness. Then they will request buffer zones around wilderness areas. I don't think these people will be satisfied until they can put fences around the cities and just lock us all in.

Right now there are approximately 100 million acres of legal wilderness designated in the United States. That is twice the size of the entire state of Utah. Do we really want to lock up even more land?

Lynn Sessions

Orem