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A Response from SUWA

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Ken Larson's recent editorial "Realize what is happening?" (Sun Advocate, June 22) does not accurately portray the efforts of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) to promote Bureau of Land Management Wilderness in Utah.

As an initial matter, Mr. Larson's statement that SUWA has had "representatives locally, in front of Wal-Mart and in Salt Lake City gathering signatures to oppose the development of natural resources in and near the Nine Mile Canyon area" is simply incorrect. SUWA has never sought signatures on a petition in front of Wal-Mart or anywhere else in Carbon County, period.

SUWA does canvas neighborhoods along the Wasatch Front and in other communities throughout the state seeking signatures on a general petition in support of SUWA's efforts to promote America's Redrock Wilderness Act. You can view a copy of this petition at SUWA's website:

Second, and as I recently stated in a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, SUWA firmly believes that resource exploration and preservation of public lands can co-exist. For example, between January 2000 and May 2004, nearly 3,500 oil and gas drill permits were approved in Utah; SUWA challenged five of these projects. Likewise, though SUWA has taken issue with the BLM's approval of the Stone Cabin seismic project, our position has always been that if done right and with the necessary safeguards to protect cultural sites and wilderness values, then the project could proceed.

Finally, as Mr. Larson states, it is a privilege for us as Utahns to recreate on public lands. The critical point here is that the Nine Mile Canyon area, among other spectacular places in central Utah, is largely made up of public land and publicly owned resources. Thus all of us, whether you live in Price, Salt Lake City, or Seattle have an interest in ensuring that these lands are managed properly.

Rather than frame the issue as whether so-called outsiders are having undue influence on "our canyon" and "our valued artifacts" clearly suggesting that the lands are "ours" and not "theirs" SUWA believes that the issue is whether "we" are doing what is right to ensure that special places like Nine Mile Canyon are around for future generations to marvel at and enjoy.

We encourage you to get involved and help public agencies like the BLM make these important decisions.

Stephen Bloch is a staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

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