Wilderness plan

Bennett should push for pact

The public lands protected under U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett's Washington County lands bill could end up as the senator's greatest legacy. But the successful negotiation and compromise that led to a sensible plan for fragile lands in Southern Utah should not end with Bennett's ouster from the Republican ticket this year.

Now is the time to extend the model for wilderness designation created by the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act to other Utah lands valuable for their scenery, wildlife habitat, archaeology and history. We fervently hope Bennett continues to work on similar legislation for San Juan County, and will get the ball rolling in other counties, such as Emery and even Kane.

There is some hope, however, that a proposal could be written in the coming seven months and perhaps Sen. Orrin Hatch could pick up the ball and run it home. Hatch and his staff are working with Piute County officials on a similar plan.

It would be a shame if progress made on all sides over so many years were wasted.