A Utah State University chemistry professor has filed an official objection to a master's thesis by a USU graduate student showing the public prefers non-wilderness recreation over wilderness recreation.
In submitting his objection to Larry Piette, dean of the USU School of Graduate Studies, Jack Spence said Wednesday that the thesis has several "serious failings."Piette has asked for USU researchers to review and critique the study and report back to him.
The study, done by graduate student Kim S. Christy and released by the Agricultural Experiment Station in early March, measured recreational use on national forest wilderness and non-wilderness lands.
Based on Forest Service information, the study concluded that since 1977, wilderness recreation use in Utah has declined at a compound rate of 5.8 percent, while non-wilderness use increased 2.4 percent during the same period.
The study has been strongly defended by Bruce Godfrey, associate professor of economics at USU, and has been widely publicized by anti-wilderness groups.
C. Booth Wallentine, executive director of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, said the findings should be used to support the position against designating additional wilderness in Utah.
Spence maintains that the study's conclusions are not supported by its data.