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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Former Rep. Jim Hansen told recreational-vehicle enthusiasts that he is thinking of running for governor, and he would make multiple-use access an issue if he re-enters politics.
He also criticized past, mostly Democratic, policies on management of federal lands.
"Some of these (federal parks and Forest Service officials) don't understand that the best way to preserve our land is to manage it. You don't just let nature take over, as some of these folks believe you should do."
Hansen spoke of a pine beetle infestation in the Dixie National Forest.
"Go down there now and all you see is dead trees," he said. "The fire in Yellowstone never needed to happen," he added, citing another example of what he contends was a mistaken hands-off policy of land management.
The former 11-term Republican representative spoke Saturday at a rally for greater motorized access to the West's mountains, valleys and forests.
After his speech, Hansen, one of several speakers at the rally on the Monte Cristo trailhead in the Cache National Forest, said that he was "thinking very seriously" about running for governor.
"I don't know if I want to take on (Gov. Mike Leavitt), and I don't know what he is going to do. But I am looking at it. I don't make a very good retiree.", Hansen, 71, said.
The rally was sponsored by the Multiple Access Conservation Coalition (MACC). It featured participants from the Utah Trail Machine Association, the Utah ATV Association, the Utah Four Wheel Drive Association, the Back Country Horsemen of America, the Utah Snowmobile Association, the Utah Marine Association and a flyby from members of the Back Country Pilots Association.
"We're working with Congress to replace some of this wilderness designation with 'backcountry' designation," said Bill Dart of the BlueRibbon Coalition, a national lobbying group for off-road vehicle and outdoor-machine enthusiasts.
He said the new designation would allow for many wilderness areas in the United States to be accessed and used in a responsible way.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)