Central Wasatch Visitor Study
Save Our Canyons is now partnering with the US Forest Service and Salt Lake City to undertake the Central Wasatch Visitor Study (CWVS). It will involve hundreds of volunteers and will last for a full year, in order to account for the strong seasonal variations in recreational styles. The work will be overseen by Professor Steven W. Burr and Master’s student Chase Lamborn from the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University with two volunteer coordinators hired through the Americorps Utah Conservation Corps program.
An Estimation of Visitor Use in Little Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and Millcreek Canyons (Feb. 2016)
Below are just a few of the findings from the CWVS thus far:
When asked “why they visit public lands” CWVS respondents ranked “observe scenic beauty,” “enjoy the sights and smells of nature,” “experience peace and tranquility,” and “improve physical health” as the most important motivating factors for recreating in the Central Wasatch.
When asking respondents of the CWVS if they are recreating in a protected watershed, 72% correctly answered YES.
When asked “do you know if this National Forest has Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas” 63% of respondents said YES
Hiking, primitive camping (backpacking in unroaded areas) and backcountry skiing are the top 3, of many, activities respondents report participating in on the Wasatch Wilderness.
A high number of respondents supported increased opportunities for public transportation to access recreation sites and a great majority support expansion of Park and Ride transportation system to have more pick ups outside the canyons.
Over 60% of respondents reported getting at least 80% of their exercise from outdoor year round recreation. With the number one response as to why being “outdoor recreation helped them feel more patient with themselves and others.”
These findings clearly demonstrate that users of the Central Wasatch Mountains value access, protections and the diverse opportunities afforded on these public lands. Having Wilderness-designated lands and a protected watershed is important to them, their families and their quality of life. The majority of respondents to the “E-Survey” component of the CWVS strongly agreed with the statement “access to recreational opportunities is an important reason why I live here.” Agreeing strongly, as well to “I would think more often about moving if there were fewer outdoor recreation opportunities nearby.” Outdoor activities such as hiking, resort skiing/snowboarding, trail running, backcountry skiing, mountain biking and rock climbing provide valuable opportunities for healthy exercise. Preserving this unique landscape for all the numerous activities that make up this dynamic community along the Wasatch Range is vital.
The information collected will be used to guide decision makers, illuminating, for example, the deliberations of the Mountain Accord process.
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