Why Public Lands Matter:

In 2014, Envision Utah conducted a statewide values study to identify (1) what factors Utahns view as affecting their quality of life the most and (2) the underlying emotions and values tied to those factors.

Utahns want to use public and other natural lands for a balanced variety of purposes. Utahns primarily value having safe and secure communities, a strong economy with an affordable cost of living, and beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy time recreating with family and friends. Public lands—and how they are managed—affect all of these three overarching values: increased energy production and food self-sufficiency improve Utahns’ sense of security; tourism, extraction industries, and grazing promote economic development; and public lands provide scenic beauty and outdoor recreation.

Rural Utahns also feel that the federal government’s constraints on the use of public lands negatively affect things they care deeply about. They believe these constraints harm the rural economy and prevent their children from finding jobs in their communities. As a result, rural Utahns feel they have lost control over things that should be within their rights to control, and they have a strong sense that they have lost their personal freedom.

Utahns care deeply about the state’s natural lands. Protecting the environment and beauty of these lands makes Utahns feel more responsible and gives them a sense of being good stewards. Outdoor recreation on public lands provides opportunities for Utahns to spend time with family and friends in the great outdoors, giving Utahns peace of mind and a sense of freedom and happiness. Utahns also believe that using public lands for multiple purposes will maximize use of resources and promote tourism, leading to a strong economy that will allow their children to stay close to home. This in turn creates feelings of family love and financial security.

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