Kristen Mouton – The Salt Lake Tribune
Most Utahns want a new approach to public lands — one that’s balanced and includes both natural areas and energy development — according to an Envision Utah survey.
The results of the public lands piece of the massive “Your Utah, Your Future” online survey, conducted last spring, was released Sunday.
Nearly 53,000 Utahns took the survey, which asks what they want for Utah’s future on a range of topics, from education to agriculture and from housing to public lands. The idea is to shape public policies so Utah is a place people want to live in 2050, when its population is expected to reach 5.4 million. The state now has nearly 3 million residents.
Kathleen Clarke, director of Utah’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, said she wasn’t surprised by the results.
“They want exceptionally good stewardship. They love the land and feel a responsibility for it,” she said. “They recognize a need for energy. But I think they are saying we need to be thoughtful about development and about uses. We need to pay particular attention to watersheds.”
Some 19,000 people took the public-lands part of the survey, and the results were affirmed in a Dan Jones & Associates poll of another 1,264 Utahns who were randomly selected, said Ari Bruening, chief operating officer of Envision Utah.
The survey found that 54 percent of Utahns want public lands managed to maintain and improve ecosystems and watersheds, promote energy self-sufficiency, provide recreational access and foster jobs and economic development.
A sizable minority — 29 percent — said they wanted more public lands set aside for nature and preservation in the coming years, and less for energy development and livestock grazing. (…)