As President Donald Trump readies an executive order to review the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, a new poll shows Utahns favor reducing or rescinding at least one of those monuments.
The UtahPolicy.com survey from Dan Jones & Associates finds a slim majority of Utahns (52%) support either reducing the size of Bears Ears or doing away with the monument entirely. That number includes 32% who say President Trump should "definitely" take action on Bears Ears. 41% think President Trump should leave the monument alone. 8% say they don't know.
On the other hand, a slight majority of Utahns (53%) say President Trump should leave the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as is. 41% want Trump to either reduce the size or undo Grand Staircase. 6% say they don't know.
Bears Ears was created by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016, less than one month before he left office at the end of his second term. The 1.35 million acre monument has been the subject of considerable controversy for quite some time. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz tried to head off the designation with their Public Lands Initiative, but that failed to get through Congress before President Obama made the designation.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante monument was created in September of 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Utah officials were notified of the monument's creation just 24 hours in advance.
The Utah Legislature rushed to pass two resolutions at the start of the 2017 session calling on President Trump to rescind the Bears Ears monument and reduce the size of Grand Staircase. Sen. Orrin Hatch also says he's lobbied President Trump to take action on Bears Ears. Gov. Gary Herbert also says he's invited Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Trump to visit the Bears Ears monument.
The resolutions on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase led the lucrative Outdoor Retailers show to abandon Salt Lake City and look elsewhere for a home.
Support for undoing the Bears Ears monument has grown since Obama created the monument. A UtahPolicy.com poll published right after Bears Ears was created found 40% of Utahns said President Trump should rescind the monument while 46% said he should leave the monument alone.
Utahns have been steadfastly opposed to the creation of the monument. Previous UtahPolicy.com surveys showed support for Bears Ears at 33% or below.
No surprise, answers to the survey break sharply along partisan lines:
- 73% of Republicans think President Trump or Congress should change or undo Bears Ears, while 91% of Democrats want the monument left alone. 47% of Republicans say Trump should "definitely" take action on Bears Ears while 83% of Democrats say "definitely not."
- 57% of unaffiliated voters say Trump should leave Bears Ears as is.
Opposition to Grand Staircase-Escalante is lower than Bears Ears, probably because the monument has been in existence for two decades.
- 59% of Republicans say President Trump or Congress should reduce the size of Grand Staircase. 31% want the monument left as is.
- A whopping 95% of Democrats say Grand Staircase should be left alone.
- 72% of unaffiliated voters want Grand Staircase to remain as is.
The survey was conducted March 22-29, 2017 by Dan Jones & Associates. 844 Utahns were questioned (both landlines and cell phones) with a margin of error +/- 3.37%.