U.S. Interior Secretary Donald Hodel says Utah and the United States have enough land to satisfy both the environmentalists who want to protect areas as pristine reserves and the businessmen who would rather develop them.
"We have areas that are so pristine that people are not allowed there. Other areas are beautiful, but allow many visitors - such as national parks. And other multiple-use lands allow development such as mining and oil wells."With a third of the land area in the nation, we have enough to accommodate all purposes - it's just a matter of balancing needs," Hodel said during a visit to Utah last week.
"The only trouble comes when one group thinks all of the land should be kept pristine and closed to people, or when one group thinks all the land should be developed."
Hodel was in Utah campaigning for Republicans, and said a win this fall by Democrat Michael Dukakis and Democrats in Congress who support him, such as Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, could ruin the balancing act his department seeks and possibly reignite the old Sagebrush Rebellion.
"Wayne Owens is the perfect example of the old Jimmy Carter Democratic philosophy that he knows what's best for the rest of us," Hodel said.
He noted that Owens is pushing to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park, even though Wyoming's all-Republican delegation is opposed to that.
"He has the attitude that the federal government knows best and should do what it wants despite the desires of local people. So he tries to shove the wolves down their throats.
"I too want the wolves in Yellowstone some day. But that will happen only when the neighbors are convinced it is the thing to do. You need local cooperation especially, because it is so easy to destroy the wolves."
He said it was the federal government trying to dictate to Westerners how land in their states should be used that caused the Sagebrush Rebellion during the Carter years.
Hodel also said that Dukakis is another Democratic Easterner who "doesn't understand our needs, and could start it all over again."
Hodel said careful negotiation with all concerned parties, coupled with patience, is the only way to ensure that land controlled by the Department of Interior is put to its best use.
An example of an area where Hodel's department is trying to strike a balance is along the shores of Lake Powell, where Gov. Norm Bangerter has proposed a land trade with the federal government to allow more marinas and lake shore development.
Hodel says he agrees with that idea in concept, but many details need to be worked out.
Another example is at Hovenweep National Monument in southern Utah, where the park service had talked about protecting thousands more acres around ancient Indian dwellings. Some claim that would unfairly restrict development.
Hodel said he isn't sure what solution he favors there yet. "But I would have to go back to my basic philosophy that there is enough land to please everybody. We just need to listen, and balance needs."