CMU study: Public lands an attraction in rural areas

Western Colorado residents frequently visit public lands and believe their proximity to public lands improves the quality of life, according to the findings of a study conducted by Colorado Mesa University for the Bureau of Land Management.

The study looked at the factors affecting people’s decisions to move to and remain in rural Colorado.

“As land managers, we wanted to better understand the role public lands play in people’s lives. We plan to use insights from the study to better connect with the communities we serve,” said Dana Wilson, acting manager of the BLM Southwest District.

Tim Casey, director of the Natural Resources Center at CMU, and Justin Gollob, director of the Social Research Center at CMU, conducted the study. Casey and Gollob are both members of the political science faculty at CMU.

“We are pleased to be part of this rural Colorado migration study with the BLM and local governments,” Casey said. “It is important for us to identify and understand what motivates people to move to or stay in the rural counties of Western and Central Colorado.”

“This kind of partnership between CMU researchers and the community allows us to contribute to the vision of a university that is not only housed in a particular community but is a valuable asset to the community as it tries to develop an understanding of our shared experience and challenges,” Casey added.

The results of the study were based on the results of telephone and Internet surveys of a total of 1,438 adults in Mesa County as well as Chaffee, Delta, Fremont, La Plata, Montezuma, Montrose and San Miguel counties. Results were aggregated by how long respondents had lived in rural Colorado and where they lived at the time the survey was conducted in July.

The study is available at