Leavitt Creates Task Force to Protect Wild Lands

Leavitt Creates Task Force to Protect Wild Lands

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- Governor Mike Leavitt is creating a task force to help resolve the status of Utah's unprotected wild lands.

It's one of Leavitt's final acts as governor. He'll be sworn in Wednesday as chief of the U-S Environmental Protection Agency.

Leavitt announced the task force today to answer criticism from outdoor retailers who've renewed a threat to pull their big trade shows out of Salt Lake City.

They've complained the third-term Republican was failing to deliver a promise to restore some measure of protection for (M)millions of acres of federal land in Utah.

Leavitt unveiled his plan for a task force today at Wasatch Touring, a gear shop in Salt Lake City.

The governor says he also wants the panel to help brand Utah as a renown recreation capital.

His successor, Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker, said she would make certain the panel follows through on its mission within two years.

Leavitt's executive order will combine state agency chiefs, county commissioners and members of the Outdoor Industry Association on a task force charged with developing strategies to protect Utah's recreational sweet spots.

Leavitt said the effort would focus on roadless tracts of five thousand acres or more.

Wasatch Touring shop owner Riley Cutler says Leavitt's action could go a long way to restoring trust with the outdoor industry.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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