Assault on wilderness fails in the polls

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Colorado

Half a billion acres. Thirteen bills -- ranging from giving away our great outdoors to mining in the Grand Canyon -- that would attack our nation’s lands and waters have been introduced this Congress. Our wilderness is under siege, and it seems as though the House leadership thinks that the American people support this inherently anti-American assault on our nation’s natural legacy.

But Republican, Democratic and Independent voters in the West appear to reject that assault.

A recent Colorado College poll conducted in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming showed that people want to protect, not squander, our great outdoors.

Called the Conservation in the West Poll, the survey paints a different picture of Americans’ opinions on conservation of our public lands. Not surprisingly, the majority of Western voters are in favor of conservation.

In fact, westerners whole-heartedly support conserving our public lands.

According to the survey, more than 85% of voters in every state surveyed (AZ, CO, MT, NM, UT, WY), “agree with the importance of public lands to their economy.”  Dave Metz, a representative at one of the polling firms issuing the survey, found that “Western voters consistently believe that conservation helps create and protect jobs for their states.”

And while many in Congress continue to attack our wilderness and environmental protections, and promote proposals to sell off or give away these lands to corporate polluters, Americans revealed a very different sentiment. For example,

  • A broad consensus of voters agrees that “we should not allow private companies to develop our public lands when their doing so would limit the public’s enjoyment of – or access to – these lands.”
  • The majority of voters in every state are “more likely to view regulations as safeguards and protections,” rather than burdensome regulations.
  • About 9 out of 10 agree that “our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an essential part of your state’s economy.”

It appears that there is a clash of values between many in Congress, who want to give away our great outdoors, and the American people, who want to protect these lands and waters that sustain us.

As any elected official can tell you, the truth is in the numbers.