Mather Point at Grand Canyon
flickr: Grand Canyon NPS
Westerners think that public lands in national parks, forests and wildlife refuges contribute to their quality of life as well as their state's economic prosperity, according to a recent poll by Colorado College. According to the Conservation in the West poll, an impressive 91% believe that public lands are "essential" to local economies and 71% oppose sale of such lands.
The Outdoor Industry Association recently released a series of reports for all 50 states, demonstrating how recreation supports economies through direct spending, jobs, salaries as well as tax revenue.
Politicians who are in a hurry to lease out and sell off public lands to the oil and gas industry and other development should take notice of these findings.
Westerners want conservation
Among the findings of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll:
71% believe development of public lands will hurt their economy and quality of life
79% of westerners believe public lands enhance their quality of life and support their economy
74% believe wild lands attract desirable employers and jobs to their state
56% think that environmentally sensitive public lands should be permanently protected from oil and gas drilling
63% of Westerners describe themselves as “conservationist”
50% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats say they view candidates from their own party more favorably if they support public land protection
71% of westerners believe development of public lands will hurt their economy and quality of life
Slideshow: A glimpse at lands that have created recreation money for western states
If more people were only aware that oil and gas companies are locking up tens of millions of acres of our public lands, they may be more alarmed about this aspect of land use.