Strong majorities reject selling off public lands; want protections for sensitive lands subject to drilling and prioritize renewable energy production in their state.
COLORADO SPRINGS – Westerners place a strong value on public lands, saying they are “essential” to their state’s economy and quality of life, according to the 2013 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll.
“Westerners see the permanent protection of their public lands as an economic imperative, and essential to their quality of life,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Decision makers would do well to take notice and cure the often one-sided tendency to pursue development rather than protection that we’ve seen emerge over the last four years.”
This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 Westerners, representing a cross section of the region’s population, found near unanimous — 91 percent — agreement that public lands like national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are an essential part of their state’s economy. Further, 71 percent oppose proposals to sell off public lands, and overwhelmingly reject arguments for the sale of public lands.
Highlights from the 2013 Conservation in the West poll:
- 79 percent believe public lands support their economy and enhance their overall quality of life.
- 74 percent believe our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas help attract high quality employers and good jobs to their state.
- 71 percent believe selling off public lands to corporations for development will hurt their economy and quality of life.
- 52 percent perceive public lands to be a job creator in their state.
The survey also illuminates Westerners’ view of energy production. For the second year in a row, Westerners vastly prefer that renewable energy development be encouraged in their state, rather than nuclear power or fossil fuels.
Drilling on public lands has flown under the radar of most Westerners. Only 34 percent of those interviewed knew with certainty that oil and gas drilling occurs on public lands. Those polled call for a balanced approach to any energy development occurring in these areas, with 56 percent saying that environmentally sensitive public lands should be permanently protected from this type of activity.
The 2013 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) for a total 2,400-person sample. The survey was conducted from January 5 through 10, 2013, and yields a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percent nationwide and +/-4.9 statewide.
The full survey and individual state surveys are available at: https://www.coloradocollege.edu/other/stateoftherockies/conservationinthewest/