Survey: Utahns willing to pay more for better air, water, land protections

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Survey: Utahns willing to pay more for better air, water, land protections. (File photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — According to a statewide survey conducted by FM3 Research, 77 percent of Utahns want to increase state funding to improve air quality, promote clean energy, and protect land and water.

Seventy percent of those surveyed indicated that they would be willing to pay out of their own pockets — as much as $40 per year in order to protect quality of life in Utah.

Survey results show a primary concern for air quality and water sources, with 68 percent of Utahns showing great concern for public health problems caused by air pollution.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed expressed concern about water supplies, and 70 percent showed significant worry over the lack of snow in Utah's mountains.

“We’re seeing that many more Utahns from diverse backgrounds agree on the need to do more today to improve and protect the natural resources we rely on,” said Dave Livermore, Utah State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “We cannot allow Utah to be defined in the future by poor air, water challenges and the loss of valuable lands.”

Survey results further show that Utahns are growing more concerned about the impact of the growing population on the state's natural resources. Fifty-five percent say their communities are "growing too fast and we need to plan better for some growth," a Natural Conservancy report states.

Those surveyed show a discontent with the Utah State Legislature for how well it has done protecting the state's natural resources. To contrast, a similar poll conducted in 2003 garnered ratings that were "excellent" or "good." Now, these recent results marked Utah lawmakers' work as "only fair" or "poor."

“It’s time we did more,” says Representative Stephen Handy (R–Layton). “Our collective wealth as a state is increasing, and we need to look to the future. Compared to the other western states, Utah is behind when it comes to providing meaningful state funding for waterways and critical lands.”

Representatives Handy and Duckworth both submitted funding requests, which total $1,000,000 to the Utah Legislature this session for the LeRay McAllister Critical Land Conservation Fund. The fund would provide grants to local governments, state agencies and non-profit organizations to conserve or restore agricultural and wildlife lands throughout Utah.

“These days, it’s refreshing to find some common ground,” said Chris Robinson, a member of the Summit County Council and CEO of Ensign Ranches. “Clearly this poll shows that better air, clean water and viable natural lands are not partisan issues. We all recognize that we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to safeguard what makes our state so unique.”