Utahns are split over whether President Donald Trump should reduce the size of either the new Bears Ears National Monument or the 20-year-old Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, a new UtahPolicy.com poll finds.
However, pollster Dan Jones & Associates’ new survey shows more support to reduce Bears Ears and more opposition to reducing the Staircase.
As reported first in UtahPolicy, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke recommended that Bears Ears go from the 1.3 million acres former Democratic President Barack Obama established last December down to around 160,000 acres.
Last week at his monthly KUER Channel 7 press conference, GOP Gov. Gary Herbert said he’s heard Trump may break up the Staircase into two or three separate national monuments, significantly reducing its overall 1.9 million acres – originally established by former Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Jones finds that 49 percent of Utahns support Trump in reducing the size of Bear Ears, while 46 percent oppose that action, 6 percent don’t know.
But sentiments switch on the Staircase.
Jones finds that 50 percent of Utahns don’t want that monument reduced in size, while 44 percent do, with 6 percent don’t know.
Should Trump ultimately take any unilateral action to reduce either monument almost assuredly he would be challenged in court – with the U.S. Supreme Court likely deciding whether a president can reduce or eliminate a national monument created by a previous president under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Here are some of the interesting demographic numbers in the new survey:
-- Men and women are markedly different in their opinions, with more women than men wishing to keep both monuments as is.
-- 54 percent of men want to reduce the size of Bears Ears, while only 43 percent of women do.
-- 55 percent of women oppose a reduction of the Staircase, while only 46 percent of men do.
-- Utah Republicans really want to cut down the size of both monuments -- on Bears Ears, it is 70-25 percent, for the Staircase, 65-30 percent.
-- By even bigger numbers, Democrats oppose that – 91-4 percent on Bears Ears and 91-5 percent for the Staircase.
-- Political independents, to a lesser degree, also oppose the reduction of either monument – 54-39 percent for Bears Ears and 60-34 percent for the Staircase.
As you might expect, those who said they are “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative” politically favor monument reduction in both cases, while moderates and liberals oppose it – with majorities growing towards both ends of the spectrum.
The issue of reducing the size of the southern Utah monuments breaks out along geographic lines, as well.
It’s safe to say those, like Salt Lake County residents, who may recreate in the monuments, want them as is, while those who have to live with the monuments daily, like southern Utah residents, want them reduced.
And there could be political implications for officeholders – like U.S. Rep. Mia Love, Republican 4th District – who ignore the majority will of their constituents. (See accompanying story.)
Jones finds that 57 percent of Salt Lake County residents oppose reduction of Bears Ears, 39 percent support it.
While 61 percent of Salt Lakers oppose a reduction of the Staircase, only 37 percent support it.
In southern Utah, Jones finds that residents by 68-31 percent want Bears Ears smaller, while by 61-34 percent they want the Staircase reduced in size.
Jones polled 608 adults from Aug. 30-Sept. 5. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.97 percent.