As they press hard to pass a flawed Emery County Public Lands Management Act through a lame-duck session of Congress, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. John Curtis seem to be trying to sidestep Utahns and all Americans.

By allowing local county commissioners to control the process and proposal, this bill leaves those outside Emery County — Native Americans and millions who have an interest in these wild lands — with no real opportunity for public input.

At risk are some of central Utah's most wild and iconic landscapes, including the renowned San Rafael Swell, Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek and the San Rafael Badlands. In a step backward for wilderness, only a third of the 1.5 million acres of wilderness-quality lands in Emery County are being designated as wilderness, leaving 900,000 acres of BLM lands unprotected.

Rushing a bill like this through Congress is a disservice to Utahns and to all Americans. Attempts to negotiate improvements in several critical areas have been ignored and dismissed in Washington, D.C. And until that attempt is made, this bill needs to be stopped in its tracks.

William V. Ingalls, Vernal