Sportsmen and conservationists in an unusual coalition, representing 35 groups as diverse as the Sierra Club and the Blanding Sportsman Club, want Sen. Jake Garn to know they support a Central Utah Project bill by Rep. Wayne Owens - and they'd like Garn to stop attacking and trying to change it.

The groups, representing 50,000 to 70,000 Utahns, held a news conference Tuesday in Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District offices to announce their support for the Owens proposal.The version by Owens, D-Utah, differs from that by Garn, R-Utah, in that a CUP wildlife commission would continue in operation after the project is built, under the Owens bill. The commission would be funded at $15 million a year through Colorado Basin power revenues.

Doug Day, spokesman for the Utah Sportsman Roundtable, which formed the group, said the only organization approached that expressed displeasure with the news conference position was the National Rifle Association, which is pleased with Garn's efforts on behalf of firearms rights.

Last week, Garn proposed a rewritten bill to reauthorize the Bonneville Unit of the CUP, with reduced cost.

It did not contain a provision advocated by Owens in his earlier version of the bill: Owens wants a commission to continue working to protect fish and wildlife after the project is completed.

Keele Johnson, Blanding, representing the Blanding Sportsman Club, said, "We fully support Congressman Owens' bill here.

"Wildlife is the future of this state."

A speaker who is proud to be an environmentalist - Lawson Legate of the Sierra Club - said his group opposed the CUP "in large part because of the terrible environmental damage, which Rep. Owens' bill would help to mitigate."

Merlin Anderson of the Utah Taxidermy Association said the Owens bill is "good for Utah and good for Utah sportsmen."

Other statements were by:

-Greg Bullock, Stonefly Society of the Wasatch: "At the present, public power users pay less than 25 percent of the normal wholesale rate for power.

"Sen. Garn said he would rather save the non-Utah public power companies a modest user fee rather than provide a reasonable means of repairing the great biological damage that is being caused by the Central Utah Project."

-Doug Day, Utah Wildlife Leadership Coalition: "We . . . express serious concern about the opposition of some members of the Utah congressional delegation to the critical wildlife mitigation measures. . . .

-Ronald L. Little, president of Northern Utah Chapter, Pheasants Forever: "All large-scale developments, including the CUP, must "be required to implement meaningful mitigation programs that will fully address any adverse impacts on wildlife populations and habitats."

-Gerald W. Folsom, Salt Lake County Fish & Game Association: "We are very grateful that something constructive is finally being done to support these important resources that have been overlooked and short-changed in the construction of this project." He referred to the Owens bill.

-Monty L. Hardman, Utah Air Boats Inc.: "Congressman Owens' bill . . . contains a non-partisan wildlife commission that can and will provide forthright decisions in support of Utah sportsmen, and a commission that can directly benefit wildlife . . . for future generations."

-Cache Anglers, Hyde Park: "The Fish and Wildlife Commission portion of this bill is a very important one . . . (providing) a means whereby local desires, which can sometimes be short-sighted and exploitative, can be balanced with state and national desires, which can be over-protective."

-Mike Adams, president, Mount Timpanogos Audubon Society: "We feel this bill (Owens') takes steps to preserve the valuable diversity of wildlife and wildlife habitat in Utah."

-Utah Wildlife Federation: A Central Utah Project Mitigation and Conservation Commission "would be funded from power revenues and administer all expenditures for fish and wildlife mitigation."

-Dick Williams, president, Utah Sportsman Alliance: "We fully support Rep. Owens' position as to taking care of wildlife mitigation problems as the CUP project progresses, not taking care of them at the end."

-Albert Regenthal, Utah Wetland Foundation: ". . . the bill provides funding and mechanisms to minimize unavoidable environmental impacts and protect our valuable natural resources, not only now but in the future."

-Utah B.A.S.S. Federation: The group's members "applaud and support in its entirety Congressman Owens' Central Utah Project authorization bill."

-Utah Hunter Education Instructors Association: "We strongly endorse the (Owens) bill in its current form. This bill in our opinion contains good mitigation benefits for fish and wildlife."

-A. Gene Snow, member at various times of 17 wildlife groups, co-owner and manager of Anglers' Inn: "People come here . . . because of the style of life that's available to them, which is in almost every case closely hinged, closely attached to our natural resources."

-Dr. Hugh M. Hogle, whose statement was read by Snow: "Those who benefit most from this massive investment by the taxpaying public (the CUP) ought to be expected to contribute on an ongoing basis for the mitigation of damage to the public's valued wildlife resources."

-Dave Nielson, vice president, Utah Bowmans Association: "We recognize the tremendous benefits of the CUP to the people of the Wasatch Front that feel there is a need for restitution of the natural resources . . ..

"Utah's natural resources deserve and need this (Owens') bill."