Only 17% of Utahns want President Barack Obama to declare the Bears Ears area in Southeastern Utah as a national monument. That's according to a new UtahPolicy.com poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates.
The survey found a plurality of Utah voters (36%) want Bears Ears left as-is, while 31% favor Rep. Rob Bishop's Public Lands Initiative, which proposes to make Bears Ears a national conservation area.
The survey from Dan Jones, Utah's premier public opinion pollster, stands in stark contrast to a poll from an activist group that showed an overwhelming number of Utahns want to see Bears Ears protected as a national monument. That survey has been described by critics as a "push poll," which is designed to elicit a predetermined outcome. The group's stated mission is to protect what they describe as "spiritually significant" areas.
The survey gave respondents three possible options for the future of the Bears Ears area:
- President Barack Obama should designate roughly 1 million acres in the Bears Ears as a national monument.
- Congress should pass, and Obama should sign, a bill by Representative Rob Bishop that would make Bears Ears a national conservation area, with some protections and local land control.
- Nothing should be done; Bears Ears is fine as it is
In October of last year, five tribes asked President Barack Obama to name Bears Ears a national monument, which would protect the 1.9 million acres in perpetuity. Bishop's PLI would designate 1.1 million acres as a national conservation area, which has been described as a "middle ground" by some.
Utah lawmakers are set to pass a resolution asking President Obama not to designate any monument in Utah, including Bears Ears during Wednesday's special legislative session. Additionally, Gov. Gary Herbert sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to designate a new monument in Utah.
Support for President Obama creating a national monument at Bears Ears only crosses 50% in one demographic - those who describe themselves as "somewhat liberal." 53% in that group would welcome the Bears Ears Monument. 47% of "very liberal" Utahns also are in favor. Obviously, those two groups are a super-minority in Utah.
45% of Democrats would like to have Bears Ears become a monument. remain unprotected as a. 27% like Rep. Bishop's public lands idea and 12% say it should remain unprotected. 16% are undecided.
Most Republicans (42%) want to leave the area as it currently is. 38% of GOP voters prefer Rep. Bishop's PLI proposal and just 5% want President Obama to designate a monument. 15% said they did not know.
Among independent voters, 25% favored a monument designation, 34% want to leave Bears Ears alone while 23% prefer Bishop's plan. 17% have no opinion.
You would think that younger Utah voters would be more for the monument designation, but that's not true. In fact, support for the Bears Ears monument does not cross 25% in any age cohort we polled.
- Only 16% of Utah voters between 18-24 years old support the monument.
- Just 14% of Utahns between 25 and 34 years of age are for making Bears Ears a monument.
- Just 12% of those 35-44 years old support Bears Ears.
- 14% of Utahns between 45 and 54 favor the monument designation.
- 24% between 55 and 64 years old want the monument designation.
- 19% of Utahns 65 and older say they are in support.
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from May 2-10, 2016 among 588 registered Utah voters. It has a margin of error +/- 4.04%.