Poll: 86% of Montanans say conservation issues important

Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. 

Credit: Wilderness.net

A survey of registered Montana voters finds that most consider conservation issues to be “important” in making election decisions.

The poll, commissioned by the University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative, found majority opposition to the idea of selling off public lands to reduce the federal deficit across party lines. More broadly, 86 percent of those surveyed said that “issues involving clean water, clean air, open spaces and public lands” were either somewhat or very important factors in whether they support an elected official.

Other key findings from the poll:

  • 78% consider the Wilderness Act, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014 and has helped protect 15 pieces of public land in Montana, to have been a good thing for the state.
  • 68% support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, which would give Montana its first newly designated wilderness area in 30 years, adding to the existing  Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas and setting aside additional space for a Conservation Management Area buffer.
  • 67% support the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives. It would protect land along the north and middle forks of the Flathead River from energy development while allowing traditional uses like logging, hunting and grazing.
  • 57% would support protecting additional wilderness areas in Montana, when told that just three percent of public lands in the state currently enjoy that designation.
  • 66% (including a majority of respondents identifying with each political affiliation) oppose proposals by some members of Congress to sell off public lands to reduce the budget deficit.
  • 80% believed that enhancing and protecting public lands has a positive impact on overall quality of life in Montana.
  • 86% felt that conserving land is good for the state’s economy.
  • 70% do not favor allowing private companies to develop public lands in Montana if it limits public enjoyment of those places

Read more about the 2014 Montana voter survey

Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Front

Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. Credit: Sam Beebe, flickr.