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Frequently Asked Questions: What do the People of Utah (and Elsewhere) Think?

What do polls show?

A tabulation by the Utah Governor’s Office of over 22,000 written and spoken testimonies received during the round of April 1995 hearings in four southern Utah towns and in Salt Lake City shows that 73% of the people supported a citizens’ proposal to designate 5.7 million acres as wilderness.

In its November 3, 1995 issue, the nation-wide USA Weekend magazine published a debate between Robert Redford and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch on the issue of Utah wilderness. Readers were encouraged to respond. Over 90% of the over 15,000 readers who responded favored the 5.7 million acres of wilderness proposed in the original Citizens’ Proposal.

Another poll, conducted in the summer of 1998 by Wirthlin Worldwide, whose clients are primarily Republican, most notably former President Ronald Reagan found: On average, Utah residents say 9.25 million acres of the 22 million acres managed by the BLM should be designates as wilderness.

  1. When informed that only 40% of the lands managed by the BLM remain in the natural state, nearly 74% of Utah residents favor designating all of these lands as wilderness areas.
  2. Wilderness designation makes the land more attractive according to 64% of Utah residents.
  3. 91% of Utahns agree that residents have a responsibility to preserve undeveloped lands for future generations.
  4. 89% of Utahns agree that Utah’s wilderness lands are an important component of the State’s economy.
  5. 69% of Utahns disagree with the notion that Utah already has too much land designated as wilderness.
The most recent national poll conducted by SUWA regarding Utah Rep. Jim Hansen’s proposal for the Basin and Range/Mojave Desert portions of the Citizens’ Proposal found:
  1. 61% of participants strongly favored stopping commercial development on all 2.6 million acres of remaining wilderness in western Utah by designating it a national wilderness area.
  2. When asked which proposal they prefer for western Utah – Rep. Hansen’s 1 million acre proposal or the 2.6 million acre proposal put forth by citizens, a whopping 64% said they prefer the full 2.6 million acre proposal compared with just 20% for the 1 million acre proposal.
What emerges from these surveys is that the position of the Utah Wilderness Coalition and its over 255 member organizations is clearly consistent with the values of both the typical Utahn and the American public.

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