Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 271–283 | Cite as

Attitudes Toward Wilderness Study Areas: A Survey of Six Southeastern Utah Counties



Southeastern Utah is a region of world-renowned red-rock sandstone formations, large tracts of federal public land, rural communities centered on agriculture and extractive industries, and is often at the epicenter of environmental protection efforts in the western United States. Environmental groups have proposed formal Wilderness designations for much of the region’s public land—proposals that have been actively fought by rural community leaders who do not want large areas “locked-up” from traditional livelihood and recreational uses. The debate over wilderness designation in the region has been characterized in the media as one that is particularly contentious and polarizing. A survey of southeastern Utah residents was conducted in order to better understand this conflict. The survey focused on attitudes toward wilderness designation and management. We found that residents of southeastern Utah have negative attitudes towards the designation and management of Wilderness Study Areas. We propose that these attitudes should be carefully considered and engaged in future policy and management decisions. We suggest that negative opinions expressed by residents of southeastern Utah are not directed primarily at the concept of environmental protection but rather at the strong perception that these programs and initiatives have been carried out in a heavy-handed manner and dominated by outside influences that have overwhelmed local “voices.”


Wilderness Southeastern Utah Survey Attitudes 


  1. 1.
    Akama, J. S., Land, C. L., Burnett, G. W. 1995Conflicting attitudes toward state wildlife conservation programs in KenyaSociety & Natural Resources.8133144Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alpert, P 1996Integrated conservation and development projectsBioscience.46845855Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Alm, L. R., Witt, S. L. 1997The rural-urban linkage to environmental policy making in the American West: A focus on Idaho.Social Science Journal34271284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Badola, R. 1998Attitudes of local people towards conservation and alternatives to forest resources: A case study from the lower Himalayas.Biodiversity and Conservation712451259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bennett, K., McBeth, M. K. 1998Contemporary western rural USA economic composition: Potential implications for environmental policy and research.Environmental Management22371381CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    BLM (Bureau of Land Management). 1978. Wilderness inventory handbook. September 27.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brunson, M. W., Steel, B. S. 1996Sources of variation in attitudes and beliefs about federal rangeland management.Journal of Range Management496975Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cox, P., Elmqvist, T. 1991Indigenous control of tropical rainforest reserves: An alternative strategy for conservation.Ambio201721Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    De Boer, W. F., Baquete, D. S. 1998Natural resource use, crop damage and attitudes of rural people in the vicinity of the Maputo Elephant Reserve, Mozambique.Environmental Conservation25208218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Durrant, J. 2001. Struggle over land and lines: mapping and counter-mapping Utah’s San Rafael Swell. PhD dissertation, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fiallo, E., Jacobsen, S. 1995Local communities and protected areas: Attitudes of rural residents towards conservation and Machalilla National park, Ecuador.Environmental Conservation22241249Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fortmann, L., Kusel, J 1990New Voices, Old Beliefs - Forest Environmentalism among New and Long-Standing Rural Residents.Rural Sociology55 (2)214232Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Foster, R. H., McBeth, M. K. 1996Urban-rural influences in U.S. environmental and economic development policy.Journal of Rural Studies12387397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gillingham, S., Lee, P. 1999The impact of wildlife-related benefits on the conservation attitudes of local people around the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.Environmental Conservation26218228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Goodman, D., McCool, D. 1999Contested Landscape: The Politics of Wilderness in Utah and the WestUniversity of Utah PressSalt Lake City, UtahGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Green, M., and J. Paine. 1997. State of the world’s protected areas at the end of the twentieth century. Paper presented at IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas on “Protected Areas in the 21st Century: From Islands to Networks” Albany, Australia, 24–29th November, 1997.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hannah, L. 1992. African people, African parks: An evaluation of development initiatives as a means of improving protected area conservation in Africa. Biodiversity Support Program, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Harcourt, A. H., Pennington, H., Weber, A. W. 1986Public attitudes to wildlife conservation in the Third World.Oryx201524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Heinen, J. 1993Park–people relations in Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: a socio-economic analysis.Environmental Conservation202534Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hough, J. 1988Obstacles to effective management of conflicts between national parks and surrounding human communities in developing countries.Environmental Conservation5129136Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Infield, M. 1988Attitudes of rural community towards conservation and local conservation area in Natal, South Africa.Biological Conservation452146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ite, U. E. 1996Community perceptions of the Cross River National Park, Nigeria.Environmental Conservation23351357Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lehmkuhl, J. F., Upreti, R. K., Sharma, U. R. 1988National parks and local development: grasses and people in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal.Environmental Conservation15143148Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Little, P. 1994

    The link between local participation and improved conservation: A review of issues and experiences

    Western, D.Wright, P. eds. Natural connections: perspectives in community-based conservationIsland PressWashington, DC347372
    Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    McBeth, M. K., Foster, R. H. 1994Rural environmental attitudes.Environmental Management18401411Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    McBeth, M. K. 1995Rural environmental and economic-development attitudes—an empirical-analysis.Economic Development Quarterly93949Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mehta, J., Heinen, J. 2001Does community-based conservation shape favorable attitudes among locals? An empirical study from Nepal.Environmental Management28165177CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mehta, J., Kellert, S. 1998Local attitudes toward community-based conservation policy and programmes in Nepal: A cse study in the Makulu-Barun Conservation Area.Environmental Conservation25320333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mkanda, F. X., Munthali, S. M. 1994Public attitudes and needs around Kasungu National Park, Malawi.Biodiversity and Conservation32944Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Nepal, S., Weber, K. 1995The quandary of local people-park relations in Nepal’s Royal Chitwan National Park.Environmental Management19853866Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Neumann, R. 1998Imposing Wilderness: Struggles Over Livelihood and Nature Preservation in AfricaUniversity of California PressBerkeley, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Newmark, W. D., Leonard, N. L., Sariko, H. I., Gamassa, D. M. 1993Conservation attitudes of local people living adjacent to five protected areas in Tanzania.Biological Conservation63177183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Newmark, William D. (ed). 1991. Attitudes of local people toward Kilimanjaro National Park and Forest Reserve. Pages 87–96 in. The Conservation of Mount Kilimanjaro. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Obua, J., Banana, A. Y., Turyahabwe, N. 1998Attitudes of local communities towards forest management practices in Uganda: the case of Budongo forest reserve.Commonwealth Forestry Review77113118Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Oli, M. K., Taylor, I. R., Rogers, M. E. 1994Snow leopard Panthera uncia predation of livestock: an assessment of local perceptions in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal.Biological Conservation686368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Parry, D., Campbell, B. 1992Attitudes of rural communities to animal wildlife and its utilization in Chobe Enclave and Mababe Depression, Botswana.Environmental Conservation19245252Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pope, C. A., Jones, J. W. 1990Value of wilderness designation in Utah.Journal of Environmental Management30157174Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rudzitis, G., Johansen, H. 1991How important is wilderness? Results from a United States survey.Environmental Management15227233Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Sekhar, N. U. 1998Crop and livestock depredation caused by wild animals in protected areas: The case of sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India.Environmental Conservation25160171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Shumway, J. M., Davis, J. H. 1996Nonmetropolitan population change in the intermountain west.Rural Sociology61512528Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Shumway, J. M., Durrant, J. O. 2000In pursuit of understanding place: The transformation of the rural West from old to new in Emery County, Utah.Papers and Proceeding of the Applied Geography Conferences238188Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Shumway, J. M., Otterstrom, S. M. 2001Spatial patterns of migration and income change in the mountain west: The dominance of service-based, amenity-rich counties.Professional Geographer53492502Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Taylor, C., Gough, J., Warren, J. 1999Social and economic impacts of Kaharangi National Park.Science for Conservation119162Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Trakolis, D. 2001Local people’s perceptions of planning and management issues in Prespes Lakes National Park, Greece.Journal of Environmental Management61227241CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Tremblay, K., Dunlap, R. 1978Rural-Urban Residence and Concern with Environmental Quality: A Republican and extension. Rural Sociology43(3)474491Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Walpole, M., Goodwin, H. 2001Local attitudes towards conservation and tourism around Komodo National Park, Indonesia.Environmental Conservation28160166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Willits, F., Crider, D. 1993Pennsylvanians View Economic Development: A Ten-Year Perspective.Journal of the Community Development Society24(1)3045Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Wells, M., Brandon, K. 1992People and Parks: Linking Protected Area Management with Local CommunitiesWorld BankWashington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyBrigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602USA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyBrigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602USA

Personalised recommendations