FEATURED REPORT:

The Wrong Side of History: 100 Years of Opposition to Our Nation’s Natural Treasures

“A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?”
—Ronald Reagan

BLOG:

Poll: Utahns Oppose Federal Land Grab Efforts

In recent years Utah Republicans have led futile efforts to sue the federal government, demanding ownership of federal lands within the state. Earlier this year, Utah lawmakers advanced what is projected to be a $14 million dollar lawsuit with little chance of success, funded by taxpayer dollars, by appropriating $4.5 million for litigation against the United States.

A new poll finds that even in Utah, supposedly the heart of federal land seizure efforts, voters do not support these efforts.

Utah Policy Poll

The poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates and released this week by UtahPolicy.com found that 46 percent of Utahns oppose paying $4.5 million to sue the federal government for ownership of federal lands in the state, with 44 percent of respondents supporting the efforts and 12 percent undecided. Broken down by political affiliation, 81 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents oppose funding the proposed lawsuit, while 58 percent of Republicans support the effort.

These findings confirm other recent polls, which find Utahns value federal public lands within the state. In their latest annual poll, Colorado College found that 96 percent of Utahns had visited national public lands, such as national parks or national monuments, within the last year and 60 percent of Utahns view public lands in the state as belonging to all Americans, rather than belonging to their state.

Land grab proponents in Utah have spent years railing against public land protections. In 1996 Utah Senator Orrin Hatch responded to President Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument within the state, calling it “a sneak attack on the State of Utah” and “the mother of all land grabs.” While Senator Hatch’s statements made headlines, they are not in line with the opinion of Utah voters. When asked recently, 45 percent of Utah voters supported the decision to designate Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, while only 25 percent of voters said the designation was a bad thing.

Federal lands provide a wide range of economic benefits throughout Utah. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $12 billion in consumer spending throughout the state, supports 122,000 Utah jobs. Efforts to seize federal lands could slow this economic engine by limiting access to recreation opportunities. Further additional funding required to fight wildfires and maintain newly acquired lands and facilities could bust Utah’s state budget.

Although critics of federal lands will surely continue their quixotic efforts to seize and privatize federal lands, they will continue to find that Utahns, and Westerners more broadly, support protecting our public lands and the benefits they bring.

Read this post on our blog.

REPORT:

The Wrong Side of History: 100 Years of Opposition to Our Nation’s Natural Treasures

“A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?”
—Ronald Reagan