Once again, an Eastern politician has proposed to set aside a vast tract of Western land for the preservation of wilderness. In this case, Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York wants to designate as wilderness some 9 million acres in southern Utah.

It is all too easy for Easterners and other urban dwellers to assuage their environmental guilt by locking up land in a state far from home. Wilderness is a good thing in proper proportion, but the commitment to wilderness should be shared. I have a modest proposal for Congress: no new wilderness land unless the sponsoring legislators offer up a significant commitment of land from their own state or region. When congressmen start sharing the pain, we'll see how committed they really are to wilderness and the environment.

Steve Fillerup