LOS ANGELES – A proposal to permanently protect federally-owned land and rivers in the San Gabriel Mountains is strongly supported by 75% of voters in local communities, according to a new poll released today. Preserving publicly-owned lands and waterways in Southern California is also strongly favored by voters, the survey found.
The poll, conducted for San Gabriel Mountains Forever, revealed broad political support across party lines for public lands and river protection. San Gabriel Mountains Forever is a diverse partnership of local business owners, residents, faith and community leaders, recreation groups, health and social service organizations, and conservation groups who have united to preserve this mountain range in the Angeles and San Bernardino National forests.
The Angeles National Forest is an irreplaceable natural resource and the recreational “backyard” of Los Angeles County. It provides much of the region’s open space, clean air and more than one-third of local drinking water. It is also critical habitat for many endangered species including Nelson’s bighorn sheep, the California condor and the mountain yellow-legged frog.
Dozens of cities and communities lie at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest, and this area includes the 26th U.S. Congressional District of Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), where the poll was conducted.
Key findings from the poll include:
- Voters in the 26th U.S. Congressional District are extremely supportive of the specific proposal to protect additional public lands in the San Gabriel Mountains as federal Wilderness, and rivers and streams as federal Wild and Scenic Rivers with 75% who favor and 15% who oppose.
- Voters in this Congressional District are also very much in favor of protecting more lands in Southern California as wilderness with 67% who favor this and 26% who oppose it. (Of the supporters, 45% were strongly in favor).
- Even 52% of Republicans said they favor protecting more local lands, while 43% oppose it.
- Protecting more streams and rivers in Southern California is even more popular than protecting wilderness lands with 72% of voters favoring this idea and 18% opposing it. (Of supporters, 48% strongly favor preserving waterways)
- Republicans are also more in favor of protecting streams and rivers with 57% favoring it and 33% opposing this protection.
- On the San Gabriel Mountains proposal, female voters (58%) show more intensity in favoring the proposal than men (51%), but both surpass the 50% level.
- Voters of all ages are strongly supportive of these San Gabriel Mountain land and river protections, but those in the 50‐64 age range are especially supportive with 60% intensity.
“Protecting wilderness, especially water is viewed very positively by voters,” said Stephen Kinney of Public Opinion Strategies which conducted the poll. “Water has long been the top environmental concern of California voters especially in Southern California and the Central Valley.”
In fact, the forest is “the source of more than one-third of the region’s drinking water,” and it gives Los Angeles County 70% of its open space, said Daniel Rossman, regional associate for The Wilderness Society and a member of San Gabriel Mountains Forever. In today’s press conference, Rossman described how two federal laws — the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act — can insure that the most unique and scenic areas of the San Gabriel Mountains are permanently protected. They are the strongest protections available for federal lands.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever is working to add about 30,000 acres to three existing federal Wilderness areas: Sheep Mountain, Cucamonga and San Gabriel. It is also seeking Wild and Scenic River protections for 46 miles of the San Gabriel River (east, west and north forks), San Antonio Creek and Middle Fork Lytle Creek.
Public Opinion Strategies conducted the survey in the 26th Congressional District on July 6‐8, 2009. It had a sample size of 400 voters, with a margin of error of +/‐ 4.9%.