On the eve of GOP President Donald Trump coming to Utah to announce he is downsizing the new Bears Ears National Monument and cutting in half the 20-year-old Grand Staircase/Escalante monument, a new UtahPolicy.com poll finds a bare majority of Utahns support that move.
Of course, ultimately it will be the federal courts who decide if Trump’s actions will stand.
Still, the new survey by UtahPolicy.com pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 52 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support Trump’s actions.
Forty percent oppose the downsizing of the monuments in central/southeastern Utah, and 7 percent don’t have an opinion.
Right after it became known in August that Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke would recommend to Trump a smaller Bears Ears (Democratic President Barack Obama a year ago designated 1.3 million acres), UtahPolicy reported the secretary wanted around only 160,000 acres set aside as a national monument in San Juan County.
Later, GOP Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters he believed Trump would cut down the massive Staircase from its current 1.9 million acres into two or three smaller monuments.
In late October, Trump called U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and Herbert to tell them he was going to visit the state to announce the smaller monuments. Gov. Herbert says that visit to Utah will be during the first part of December.
It’s still unknown the exact number of acres – or where those acres are inside of the current monument proposals – that Trump will designate.
But the downsizing will be significant.
And opponents to the changes – which include several Native American tribal governments – will sue to stop the action.
Jones finds in his new poll:
Utah men and women have very different opinions on Trump’s actions: 62 percent of men want the monument downsizing, only 43 percent of women do.
A third of men oppose the downsizing, while 47 percent of women do.
Younger Utahns have different opinions than do their parents and grandparents:
Among those who are 18-24 years old, 57 percent oppose Trump’s actions, while 28 percent support the monument changes.
Those who are 65-74 years old support the president’s downsizing, 62-35 percent.
It would be hard to find an issue that more separates Republicans from Democrats in Utah than the fate of the national monuments:
Republicans support Trump’s actions, 74-19 percent.
Democrats oppose it, 88-7 percent.
While political independents oppose reducing the monuments, 50-42 percent.
The LDS faith teaches that humans should be good stewards of the land, but that the land and animals are also put on Earth to sustain humans.
Most Utah active Mormons are also Republicans.
Jones finds that 70 percent of “active” Mormons support reducing the size of the monuments; 23 percent oppose.
“Somewhat active” Mormons and those raised in the faith, but who no longer believe it, are split, Jones finds.
All other religions, by various majorities, oppose downsizing the monuments.
And those who have no religion really oppose the downsizing, 82-15 percent.
Trump will reportedly come to the state in early December to announce his decisions, but no date has been set yet.
It is also not known where the president will make the announcement – in Salt Lake City or somewhere down in Southern Utah near the monuments themselves.
Jones polled 600 adults from Nov. 16-21. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.