According to a recent bipartisan poll released by Colorado College, Western voters — including Utahns — want to see their public lands protected. Seventy-four percent of Utahns polled said public lands “support the economy, provide recreation opportunities and enhance quality of life . . .”

“Westerners see the permanent protection of their public lands as an economic imperative, and essential to their quality of life,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Decision makers would do well to take notice and cure the often one-sided tendency to pursue development rather than protection that we’ve seen emerge over the last four years.”

Highlights from survey of six Western states:

  • 79 percent believe public lands support their economy and enhance their overall quality of life.
  • 74 percent believe our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas help attract high quality employers and good jobs to their state.
  • 71 percent believe selling off public lands to corporations for development will hurt their economy and quality of life.
  • 52 percent perceive public lands to be a job creator in their state.

Highlights from Utah survey:

  • Voters in Utah are avid supporters of public lands, with 74% believing public lands in the state support the economy, provide recreation opportunities and enhance quality of life, rather than being a fiscal burden and preventing creation of jobs in traditional industries.
  • By a nearly unanimous margin (96% agree/3% disagree), Utah voters say that public lands are an essential part of the state’s economy.
  • Utahans also see public lands as a job creator in the state, with 77% of voters agreeing that national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas help attract high quality employers and good jobs to Utah.
  • A majority of Utah voters oppose selling some federal public lands as a way to reduce the nation’s budget deficit (37% support/57% oppose).
  • Support for selling off public lands is further diminished when voters are presented with arguments on both sides of the issue. After hearing a simulation of the debate on this issue, just 26% of Utah voters support selling some public lands, while 67% oppose it.
  • By a strong consensus (62%), voters say environmentally sensitive places on public lands should be permanently protected from drilling.
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