Environews, Minis

Environews: Conservation in the West poll, 2018

By Amy Brunvand

Colorado College has released their 8th annual “Conservation in the West” Poll for 2018. The poll asks voters in eight western states including Utah for opinions about conservation, energy, environment and public lands.

The 2018 poll shows that we Utahns love our public lands—91% of Utahns said they had visited public lands during the past year (29% of them more than 10 times) and 81% planned to visit a National Park during the coming year.

However, poll numbers show an odd disconnect between what people say they value and their political opinions. The poll reports that 47% of Utah voters support Trump Administration policies, yet when they were asked about specific policies they were generally opposed: 56% opposed expanding oil and gas drilling; 59% supported the keeping Obama era sage-grouse recovery plans that are currently under attack by the Trump Administration; and 62% opposed uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. Likewise, 46% opposed privatizing campgrounds and other facilities on public lands (36% supported the idea; the rest were unsure).

The poll showed a similar disconnect regarding the downsizing of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. Slightly more voters thought downsizing was bad (49%) versus good (46%). However, 97% agreed that national monuments are “places I want my children and grandchildren to see someday,” and 91% agreed that they are national treasures. 76% of Utahns polled considered themselves conservationists.

How does one reconcile political support for Trump Administration attacks on federal public lands and environmental regulations with the hope that Utah’s national treasures will somehow still be there for our grandchildren?

Conservation in the West Poll, 2018: coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/

This article was originally published on March 7, 2018.