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John Hollenhorst reporting Governor Leavitt's vow to help protect Utah wildland, has temporarily made peace with a segment of the Outdoor Recreation industry.
Both camps met for hours today, and emerged with only positive things to say.
Utah's War over Wilderness has often been compared to the Middle East conflict: Totally polarized, seemingly insoluble, endless.
And it's all about land, and the conflicting visions of it's future.
Today's meeting then was something like a Mid-East Summit. Everything cloaked in diplomatic language. Maybe, just maybe, small steps toward peace.
Leaders of the human-powered recreation industry have been upset with what they call a back-room deal between the governor and the Bush administration. It removed 6 million acres from temporary wilderness protection. They've been threatening to pull their lucrative semi-annual trade show out of Utah.
But today the Governor pleased them by pledging to protect land.
GOV. MIKE LEAVITT: "THERE'S LOTS OF WAYS TO PROTECT IT. WILDERNESS IS AMONG THEM. WE OUGHT TO USE WILDERNESS WHERE IT'S APPROPRIATE. AND WE OUGHT TO GET ON WITH IT. WE HAVE SIMPLY PUT OFF MAKING WILDERNESS TOO LONG. IT'S TIME TO GET DOWN TO THE BUSINESS OF MAKING IT. "
PETER METCALF/BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT: "AND HE WAS FAIRLY EMPATHIC ABOUT THAT, THAT HE IS A BELIEVER IN WILDERNESS, AND THAT HE WILL WORK TOWARDS THAT TO SOME DEGREE."
FRANK HUGELMEYER/PRES., OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: "WE ARE ENCOURAGED BY THE BEGINNNINGS OF OUR DIALOGUE AND HOPEFUL THAT A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVEREMR WILL ACHIEVE THESE GOALS AND OTHERS IN THE FUTURE. TODAY WAS A GOOD FIRST STEP."
The future steps are bit vague right now. The Governor has promised a continuing dialogue on the issue. That will continue at least through the next Outdoor Retailers trade show in August, with the goal of keeping the show here in future years.