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I attended the Utah House Natural Resources Committee hearing where Gov. Gary Herbert launched into his anti-federal government rant ("Herbert warns wild lands policy could cost Utah billions," Tribune, March 2).

The Republicans who lead the committee stacked the deck with their friends.

In their eagerness to attack Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's instructions to the Bureau of Land Management to give equal weight to all values on public lands — including wilderness and conservation — Herbert's (and Rep. Rob Bishop's) over-the-top rhetoric did little to help us understand what this policy actually does.

Five hours into the testimony, the committee finally gave state BLM Director Bob Abbey a chance to respond.

His clarity and calm were a stunning contrast to the anger and untruths spewed by the most radical members of the committee. He made clear that Salazar had simply reinstated a policy in place for 25 years before the backroom deal between then Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Salazar directed the BLM to consider the wilderness characteristics of public lands in planning.

This restoration of sensible wild lands policy allows for comment from all citizens. I hope it will lead to further protection for our remarkable public lands in Utah.

Stephen Trimble

Salt Lake City