Environmental Management

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

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

Article

Abstract

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.”

Keywords

Wilderness Southeastern Utah Survey Attitudes 

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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

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