A survey conducted by a Logan Municipal Council member showing strong support for improvement to the Logan Canyon Highway is being criticized by environmentalists and at least one person contacted in the survey.
Fred Duersch Jr. told the council last week that of 208 people he contacted by telephone, 99 percent favored improvements to U.S. 89 through Logan Canyon, while 95 percent said considerable improvement can be made without destroying the canyon's beauty or damaging the environment.Following his report Jan. 5 , the council voted unanimously to support the Utah Department of Transportation's efforts to improve the highway.
But Mae Coover, one of the people contacted by Duersch, said she was never asked her feelings on any UDOT proposal.
"While I favor some improvement, I do not like the original UDOT proposal, which was very drastic, and I tried to convey to Mr. Duersch that I favor only minimal improvement," she said.
Duersch told the council that none of the people he talked to had attended public hearings held by UDOT last year and said the reasons given included: "I don't like to argue," and, "It was a stacked deck."
Coover said she attended all the meetings, but never was asked that question in the telephone survey.
Duersch also said his survey was not scientific, but said he had contacted experts at Utah State University who helped him eliminate bias.
Tom Lyon, a USU English professor who is active with the Utah Wilderness Association, said the questions were phrased in a way to ensure positive results, however.
Lyon said those concerned with protecting the canyon could put together a survey asking "would you like to see the beauty of Logan Canyon destroyed?" and 99 percent would probably answer `no.'
"We would then use that as evidence that nothing should be done," he said.
Jack Spence, another conservationist who teaches chemistry at USU, said Duersch's statement that no one he surveyed had attended the public hearings was revealing.
"The hearings were conducted in an impartial manner, everyone who wished to speak was able to do so, and most citizens who testified had made a serious effort to study the project," he said. "Since none of the people surveyed could be bothered with attending, it is highly unlikely they have read UDOT publications or consulted available maps and specifications for the project."
Spence said he was curious about what the council actually voted to support because UDOT had not made a final recommendation.
"The draft environmental impact statement being prepared will include several alternatives that require additional study," he said.