Utah Wilderness Association.

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The Utah Wilderness Association (UWA) was formed in response to concerns that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Services were not advocating for new wilderness areas in Utah. In 1979, Dick Carter and others joined together to officially form the UWA and with the help of their efforts, a Utah Wilderness Act was made into law in 1984. The UWA continued their activities and after the act twelve areas were designated as Utah National Forest wildernesses.

The UWA remained active throughout the 1980s with issues such as bear baiting and oil drilling around Utah. By the late 1990s, however, key members such as Dick Carter left the organization and without proper funds the UWA became inactive in 1996.

From the guide to the Utah Wilderness Association photograph collection, 1977-1995, (Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives)

The Utah Wilderness Association was organized in 1979 as a voice for Utah's wilderness. Dick Carter, Hyrum resident and former Utah representative for the Wilderness Society, founded the Utah Wilderness Association in the midst of the Bureau of Land Management's 1980 inventory of Utah lands and the Forest Service's second RARE (Roadless Area Review Evaluation) study, both of which pushed the UWA into action to further protect Utah wilderness.

RARE II was to determine which undeveloped areas needed preserving as part of a national wildlife preservation system and which areas needed no further study and should be open for other uses. In Utah, RARE II suggested that 14 areas be preserved, while Utah wilderness activists, like Dick Carter believed that many more areas were worth preserving. The 1978 RARE II recommendations and the 1979 initial action of the BLM to drop 17 million of the 22 million acres in Utah being reviewed, pushed Dick Carter into forming the UWA.

The UWA appealed the BLM's report and lobbied for the addition of 900,000 more acres in Utah. The UWA, along with other scientists and activists, compiled a 1,400 page appeal and submitted it to the Interior Department's Board of Land Appeals in 1981.(1) The appeal was enacted in 1983, leading to the push for a Utah Wilderness Act, which was signed into law by President Reagan in 1984. In less than five years of operation the UWA achieved significant legislation and public notice for wilderness lands in Utah. Initially, the Utah Wilderness Act created twelve officially sanctioned wilderness areas in Utah, including the High Uintas, Mt. Nebo near Nephi, the Wellsville Mountains in Cache Valley, and Mt. Naomi in northern Cache County. The dedication ceremony took place in August of 1985 with an emotional Dick Carter speaking about the importance of Utah's wilderness and stressing that much needs to be done to preserve other Utah acreage not covered by the Wilderness Act.(2)

The organization grew from about a dozen members at its first meeting in May 1979 to more than one thousand committed members in the early 1990s, mostly from northern Utah.(3) Other issues that concerned the members of the Utah Wilderness Association were grazing, timber harvesting, and especially oil drilling in Utah wildernesses. On numerous occasions, the UWA appealed drilling and oil exploration in the High Uintas.

The mission statement of the Utah Wilderness Association declares that the organization "is dedicated to the preservation of Utah's wilderness, public lands, and the flora and fauna dependent upon them." Though a greater percentage of the organization's efforts were centered on wilderness and land usage, some of the more prominent wildlife issues that UWA advocated were bans on bear baiting, as well as Sandhill crane and cougar hunting. Concerned with these issues, the Utah Wilderness Association published "A Utah Wildlife Manifesto" in 1989, which was updated periodically in the following years. Though the document was labeled "anti-hunting" by some readers, the UWA contended that the concern of the Manifesto was wildlife management. The Manifesto called for the initiation of a multi-purpose wildlife license for both hunting and non-consumptive wildlife use, the establishment of wildlife preserves and refuges, the development of educational programs, and the promotion of wildlife as a tourism and recreation benefit. In addition, the Manifesto was concerned with the composition of state policy-making boards, such as the Wildlife Board and Board of Big Game Control. The UWA felt that there was not adequate representation on these boards for the non-consumptive environmental and wildlife constituency.(4)

The Utah Wilderness Association was active until 1996, when several board members left the association, including founder Dick Carter, and the organization lacked sufficient funds to continue. The UWA went into "hibernation" and virtually ceased all operations. In seventeen years of active existence the UWA remained committed to its mission: "We provide detailed technical analysis of and make recommendations on specific public resource and land management issues. We publish a newsletter discussing issues which affect Utah's public lands and wildlife; host educational seminars, field trips and workshops; and promote grassroots activism.(5) The bi-monthly newsletter, Utah Wilderness Association Review, was a way to let the members know what issues the UWA was actively pursuing. The UWA also spent a great deal of time fundraising. The first organized fundraiser was in 1979, when Edward Abbey gave a lecture at the University of Utah's Olpin Union Ballroom, and a felt hat and an old shoe were passed around the audience to collect money.(6) The UWA relied heavily on donations, annual membership dues, and volunteers to maintain the organization.

The Utah Wilderness Association also devoted as much effort to educating the public as it did to passing environmental legislation. Through poetry contests, lecture series, workshops, and public awareness programs, the Utah Wilderness Association made sure that the public recognized the association's efforts. Dick Carter, in his farewell letter, recognized the positive impact of the organization: "While our achievements are widely recognized, including the Utah Wilderness Act of 1984 which designated 12 Utah National Forest wildernesses, our real success was the ‘mainstreaming' of a Utah environmental movement."(7)

Currently (June 2003) Dick Carter is directing a new organization called the High Uintas Preservation Council, which is dedicated to many of the same causes as the UWA.

Note: 1"Group Files 1,400-page wilds appeal,Deseret News 24 Aug. 1981, 8D. 2 Tom Wharton, "Utah's Officials Dedicate New Wilderness Areas," Salt Lake Tribune 29 Aug. 1985, B1+. 3 Amy E. Brennan, "Grassroots of the desert: an analysis of the Utah Wilderness Association and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in the debate over wilderness designation of Bureau of Land Management lands in southern Utah," (Thesis, Utah State University, 1998), 86. 4"A Utah Wildlife Manifesto." Published by the Utah Wilderness Association, Feb. 1990.Located in Record Group [General Environmental Issues], Series [Wildlife] Box 5. 5 "Mission of the Utah Wilderness Association." Utah Wilderness Association Review July-Aug. 1992, 8. 6 Anne Wilson, "Wilderness Author Speaks at Benefit," Salt Lake Tribune 30 Oct. 1979, D2. 7From the Utah Wilderness Association Review March-April 1996: 2

From the guide to the Utah Wilderness Association records, 1980-2000, (Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gary Smith Papers, 1960-1984 Utah State University. Merrill-Cazier Library. Special Collections and ArchivesManuscript Collection
creatorOf Utah Wilderness Association records, 1980-2000 Utah State University. Merrill-Cazier Library. Special Collections and ArchivesManuscript Collection
creatorOf Utah Wilderness Association photograph collection, 1977-1995 Utah State University. Merrill-Cazier Library. Special Collections and Archives.Photograph Collections
creatorOf Utah Wilderness Association. [Newsletters, special issues, etc.] / Utah Wilderness Association. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Carter, Dick. person
associatedWith Smith, Gary M., | 1943- person
associatedWith United States. Utah Wilderness Act of 1984. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Southern Utah
Washington County (Utah)
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Coal mines and mining
Environmental Activism
Environmental policy
Environmental protection
Environment and Conservation
Forest reserves
Forestry and Logging
Material Types
National parks and reserves
Oil-shale industry
Outdoor recreation
Public lands
Wilderness areas
Wilderness areas
Wilderness areas
Wildlife conservation

Corporate Body

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