Wasatch Environmental Update: Feb. 21, 2016

  • February 21, 2016
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State of the Rockies 2016

By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons

Colorado College recently released a report on the State of the Rockies, called 2016 Conservation in the West. It reports a poll of public opinion on important question about the proper use and governance of public lands and their resources. It covers seven states identified as having some connection with the Rocky Mountains. They are, in alphabetical order, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. We don’t know why Idaho is omitted.

The professionals doing the polling were carefully chosen so as to give a reliably bipartisan result. The topics surveyed have to do with Energy, Conservation, Public Lands and Water.

One of the timely findings is that in spite of the ugly rhetoric from extremists, there is strong public support for efforts to protect and maintain national public lands. Professor Eric Perramond, faculty director of the State of the Rockies project, has stated, “Charges of government overreach from the ideological fringes are making headlines, but in reality most Westerners … favor greater protection and sensible use of the open lands and national treasures that define the region.” For example, only 30% of Nevadans expressed support for the antics of Cliven Bundy.

National Monuments got surprisingly high marks. The old monuments that generated such heat in the Clinton Administration enjoy wide margins of support today. Proposed new monuments, such as the Bears Ears in Southern Utah, are also popular.

Water is a serious worry more or less throughout the area. Pollution of rivers and streams is a concern, as is, of course, low flow. Most people do NOT favor diverting water to population centers from less populated areas.  They are more than willing to conserve and use less.

But let’s send you to do your own research. Go to coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies and you can then dig in as deeply as you wish, or you can content yourself with a brief press release, covering highlights.

It will be a heartwarming experience. But soon you realize that, in Utah, at least, we have utterly failed to convince the electorate that they should vote with their hearts. We repeatedly send politicians to Capitol Hill and Washington that don’t represent our fondest wishes.

Think about That!