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Western voters support public lands, outdoors
Western voters who identify themselves as sportsmen view America’s public lands as critical to their state’s economy and quality of life, and support upholding protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife, according to the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll.
The survey, completed in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Montana and Wyoming by Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), found that 92 percent of sportsmen – the majority of whom identify as politically conservative or moderate – believe that national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an “essential part” of the economies of these states.
Nearly two-thirds of sportsmen polled also opposed allowing private companies to develop public lands when it would limit the public’s enjoyment of – or access to – these lands, and the same percentage believe in maintaining current conservation measures for land, air and water, according to a news release.
“Investments in conservation of our public lands and water are not only critical to providing quality hunting and fishing opportunities, but are also a critical component of the $192 billion sportsmen contribute to our national economy annually,” said Gaspar Perricone, co-director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Sportsmen and women continue to value a stubborn stewardship of our natural places and the recreational opportunities those places provide.”
More from the news release:
More than two out of every three sportsmen view loss of habitat for fish and wildlife as a serious threat to a quality outdoor experienceFurther, 75 percent of sportsmen polled indicated that cuts in funding for parks, habitat, and water quality pose a serious threat to their hunting heritage and western lifestyle.
Both sportsmen and members of the general public agreed that even with tight state budgets, the government should maintain investments in land, parks, water and wildlife conservation. These results bolster the findings of a major report commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation late last year, which measures the significant economic impacts associated with outdoor recreation and makes the case that conservation programs are a common sense investment.
“Conservation programs amount to only about 1 percent of federal spending but in return sustain fish and wildlife and their habitats, enable our outdoor traditions and safeguard the more than 6 million jobs supported by outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The general public, including sportsmen, supports our continued investment in conservation, and we will continue to work with our leaders in Washington, D.C., to uphold these critical policies that facilitate the responsible use and enjoyment of our public lands.”
The poll surveyed 1,100 registered voters in six western states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana) who identified as sportsmen in early January and yields a margin of error of + 2.95 percent.
Here's the full sportsmen’s survey. Here's a fact sheet summarizing sportsmen’s results.