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The Wilderness Debate

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Longtime supporters of a measure that would designate one-sixth of all Utah land as wilderness had their day in the Congressional spotlight last Thursday. Let's hope it is the last time the overreaching America's Red Rock Wilderness bill, as written, gets a hearing.

It isn't that KSL opposes the creation of more wilderness lands in Utah. Some of the state's most scenic and pristine areas warrant protection from development, motorized access and careless abuse. Yet, there are better ways to accomplish the task.

The approach used recently in Washington County is a prime example of how all sides can come together for the common good. An intense localized effort, focused on local needs and concerns led to the designation earlier this year of some 256,000 acres in Washington County as wilderness.

As KSL said then, the process followed and the mechanisms invoked could become a template for other regions in Utah that are struggling with land use issues. It reaffirmed what can be accomplished when the debate, though intense, is civil and underscored with realistic objectives.

Wilderness advocates, indeed, had their long-awaited hearing last week. Now let them come down to earth and work closely with pragmatic local officials to find reasonable solutions to the wilderness debate in Utah.

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