Central Wasatch Visitor Study

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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.

CWVS Introduction (Spring 2014)

CWVS First Quarterly Report (September 2014)CWVS Second Quarterly Report (December 2014)

CWVS Midterm E Survey (February 2015)

CWVS Third Quarterly Report (April 2015)

CWVS Fourth Quarterly Report (July 2015)

CWVS E-Survey (July 2015)

An Estimation of Visitor Use in Little Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and Millcreek Canyons (Feb. 2016)

CWVS Use Study: A Survey of Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, and Alta

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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4 responses to “Central Wasatch Visitor Study

  1. I would like to complete a survey but might not be visiting Salt Lake at a time when I’ll be going to the canyons (although I usually go several times a year) Is it possible to receive an on-line copy of the survey and return it? As a native Utahan who now lives in Pennsylvania I really support what you are doing. It is critical to protect the Wasatch.

  2. Hi

    I would be willing to volunteer twice a month. On days

    When I can find out a week in advance. I am 68 and

    Know the Canyons very well and have witnessed the

    Recent influx. I also think SOC should have more

    Events not work, to keep members engaged. I am

    Very upset with any road widening in Millcreek,

    The canyon is overloaded now, why accommodate

    And encourage more cars and visitors, faster roads.

    And partially ruin the like the roads to the resorts

    Have done to big and little cottonwood reduce the

    Speed limit and encourage more canyon patrol

    To improve behaviors. There is no reason to pass

    A biker going 20 to 30 down canyon. Don’t allow

    Passing bikes in dangerous corners and very narrow

    Spots. In addition encourage bikers to periodically

    Move over or stop to allow Bikers around.

    With the increase in usage Wasatch Mountain

    Culture needs work on courtesy and better behaviors.


    Lee Spencer

  3. This survey has included hunting and fishing as categories of use. However the methodology will limit input with respect to these uses. The canyons area south of I-80 is limited to bowhunting with respect to big game. To get input from these users the interviewers would need to be at obscure locations not necessarily trailheads an hour or more before daylight and the users would in mahy cases be returning to roads at other obscure locations. Also we don’t really want to be bothered by sociologists with clipboardsand we don’t really want other people to know what we are up to.

    Fishing, included in the second report, for similar reasons,,has not showed up signifacantly in your second report but it clearly is a use.

    The academic recreation folks who are conducting this survey have not properly recognized that the Canyons are the home of animals and plants who have no voice. What is the opinon of folks concerning a single Snowbird employee who has killed a cougar and a deer whille driving to work. So much for interview questions.

    The elite who access the peaks with traditional bows in a takedown mode hidden in their packs in order to chase the big bucks who hang out among the peaks may be beyond the comprehension of the researchers.

    Public transportation is not a practical or even viable mode of transportation for these activities.

    • Fred,

      Thanks for your insight and dedication to protecting the Wasatch. Inherently, the sports of hunting and fishing as you describe require stealth and don’t really lend themselves to being stopped while stalking prey. We are still very interested in understanding the uses and desires of these users groups and have worked to that end for a while now. Perhaps, in the near future we will be able to rework the survey so that it can be online in an effort to capture a wider user population.

      Thanks again.

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