Mountains important for personal well-being say residents in surveyDec 02, 2022 12:23PM ● By Cassie Goff
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
This year, the Utah Wellbeing Project surveyed over 10,000 Utah residents across 35 cities to gather data about residential well-being as a continuation to their research project(s). Response rates were lower this year as 14,000 Utah residents were surveyed with similar questions between 2019 and 2022.
Recently, Professor of Environment & Society at Utah State University Dr. Courtney Flint has been providing cities information on the well-being of their individual residents. On Nov. 15, Flint presented the findings relative to the City of Cottonwood Heights to the city council.
Two hundred and twenty-seven Cottonwood Heights residents completed Utah State University’s well-being survey. Ninety-six percent of those 227 residents were full-time residents with only 3% being part-time residents. Twenty-two percent of those 96 residents reported living in the city for under five years.
“Personal well-being and community well-being in the city were very well above average,” said Flint.
When asked to rate their well-being in 10 different areas, Cottonwood Heights residents rated physical and mental health, connection with nature, and living standards as the highest well-being domains. In addition, the most important well-being domains for Cottonwood Heights residents were physical health, safety and security, mental health, and living standards.
“The older population rates mental health and leisure time more than other groups,” Flint mentioned.
Over 90% of Cottonwood Heights residents rely on the presence of mountains, rivers and streams, city parks, and trails to positively influence their well-being.
“Natural landscapes are really positive for well-being,” Flint said.
Even though well-being ranked high within the city, Cottonwood Heights residents reported lower perceptions of taking action and feelings of community connection in relation to other Utah city’s residents.
When asked about overall concerns, Flint found “the water supply came screaming to the top of the list.”
Cottonwood Heights residents also expressed concern over air quality, affordable housing, climate change, roads and transportation, public safety, and access to public land.
Additional concerns that were mentioned in open comments included laws against short-term rentals, walkability and sidewalks, high-density housing, lack of green space, the gravel pit, the proposed gondola, internet, police, noise pollution, corruption, inflation and LGBTQ rights.
“The more connected you are with the community, the higher the well-being scores are,” Flint said.
Over 70% of Cottonwood Heights residents reported participating in non-motorized recreation on public lands or waters within the last 12 months. In addition, Cottonwood Heights residents have been recreating in city parks, enjoying wildlife or birds in their neighborhoods, and gardening.
“The recreation programs are influential in building those community connections,” Flint said.
Cottonwood Heights residents reported finding value in the great location of the city, the social climate, access to nature, natural beauty, and safety.
For Cottonwood Heights, 68% of respondents were female, 30% were male, and 3% were non-binary or non-conforming. In addition, 72% had at least a four-year degree.
Within the survey, some of the underrepresented groups included those without a college degree, those who are unemployed, the youngest adult age group, and males.
“Woman are more likely to do an online survey,” Flint said.
In Cottonwood Heights, 36% of the 227 survey respondents reported an income of $150,000 or higher. Thirty-two percent reported an income between $100,000 and $150,000. Seventeen percent reported an income of $75,000 to $99,999, and only 15% reported an income under $50,000.
Ninety-two percent of the Cottonwood Heights respondents were white, while 3% reported Hispanic/Latino, and 8% reported nonwhite. Forty-three percent of residents reported having children under 18 in the household.
Currently, the Utah Wellbeing Project’s Research Team consists of Dr. Hyojun Park, Sarah Wilson, Madison Fjeldsted Thompson, Casey Trout, Brooke Richards, Bailey Holdaway, and Cheyenne Chee.
Over the past few years, they have been working to bridge relationships between the Utah Cancer Institute, Get Healthy Utah, UTA, and UDOT. The Utah Wellbeing Project is sponsored by the Utah League of Cities and Towns.
“We have been running our projects on $15,000 per year and that’s just not sufficient with how many cities like to participate. Now, we need to do some fundraising,” Flint said.
To learn more about the Utah Wellbeing Project, visit their website at: www.usu.edu/utah-wellbeing-project/