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Westerners often take the reasons they live here for granted.

But when they're asked about it, living in the great outdoors, protecting the environment and preserving public lands come through loud and clear as motivators for living in the West.

And a new poll from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project found Utahns' perspectives on life in the West are not so different from those of their neighbors.

The college's Conservation in the West Poll, released Tuesday, is particularly relevant as Utah lawmakers continue to press the case for taking over management of more than 30 million acres of public land in the state.

Residents surveyed in six Western states view public lands as "American Places," not "State Places," according to pollsters.

"People have very evocative memories of growing up and visiting these places," said pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies. "They feel one of the best things the federal government does is public lands."

Of those polled in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, 68 percent said the lands belong to all U.S. citizens, not just the residents of specific states.

In Utah, the number of voters agreeing public lands belong to all Americans dropped to 60 percent of the 400 registered voters polled.

A bi-partisan research team called 2,400 residents of the states in late 2014 and early 2015 for the college poll.

"We've long known that public lands are a critical part of why people choose to live and work in the West," said Eric Perramond, director of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project and professor of human and environmental geography. "But our findings show that these remarkable places are truly the cornerstone of our lifestyle, our values and what keeps us in the West."

Pollsters found a disconnect between voters and their congressional representatives on environmental and public lands policy. Nearly half said they were not sure of their congressional representative's positions on "protecting land, air and water." And 27 percent believe their representative "places a lower priority than you do."

Voters are less concerned about commercial use of public lands. Nearly two-thirds of western respondents — 72 percent — said it was important to make sure oil, gas, minerals and coal are available for development and mining. But only 40 percent said it was very important.

Another 76 percent said it was important to make public lands available for livestock grazing. But just 35 percent said it was very important.

The vast majority of Westerners — 96 percent — say preserving natural areas for future generations is important. Utahns' support matched that number.

Nearly all of those polled — 97 percent — reported visiting federally managed public lands in the past year. And 43 percent of them went more than 20 times.

And public lands seem to bring conservative and liberal voters together, with 95 percent of Republicans polled, 96 percent of Independents and 98 percent of Democrats saying protecting lands for the future is important.

In Utah, concerns about water are rising as reservoir levels drop. Just over 80 percent of Utahns cited inadequate water supplies as a serious problem. Another 79 percent "strongly prefer conservation of the current water supply, rather than diverting more water from rivers in less populated areas," pollsters reported.

Other significant Utah results from the poll include:

— 96 percent of the respondents said an important priority for public lands management is protecting those places for future generations.

— 95 percent favored ensuring access on public lands for recreational activities.

— 70 percent supported future U.S. presidents continuing to protect public lands through national monument designations.

— Only 20 percent supported selling off public lands to reduce the federal deficit.

— 88 percent believe air pollution and smog are a serious problem in the state.

Twitter: @BrettPrettyman