Poll: western voters are pro-public lands for all Americans

Glacier National Park, Montana

Photo: Beau Rogers, flickr.

A new poll shows western voters still value public lands and largely understand that only the federal government, rather than individual states, possesses the tools to care for them.

Voters in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming overwhelmingly said that public lands managed by national agencies are “American places” versus “state places,” repudiating recent efforts to move the care of shared wild places away from the federal government.

The poll, which was sponsored by the Center for American Progress, sampled from a pool of respondents that predominantly identified as either conservative or moderate (77%).

See the full poll results

Some key findings:

• A whopping 93% of respondents said they had visited national parks, national monuments or other spots presided over by federal land-management agencies in the previous year.

• 94% of respondents said that their most recent trips to such places were positive experiences.

• 72% of people said they consider public lands to be “American places that belong to everyone in our country” vs. places that belong more to residents of the states where those lands are found.

• A huge majority of respondents considered it either “very or somewhat important” to protect and conserve public lands for future generations (97%), ensure access for outdoor recreation (98%) and give rangers the resources needed to care for the lands and assist visitors (96%).

• Despite their lukewarm approval of the federal government as a whole, a significant majority of respondents approve of federal land management agencies: the U.S. Forest Service (73%), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (73%) and National Park Service (76%).

These numbers demonstrate once again that communities in the American West care passionately about wild places. A poll released in February found that western voters carry their concern for wild land, water and air into the voting booth and mostly agree that the government restricting access to national parks and other public lands hurts small businesses and communities’ economies in the West.

Conservation remains as popular as ever among Americans, yet more than two dozen bills to protect spectacular areas across the country are languishing in Congress, often despite strong local, bi-partisan support.

Tell Congress to remember their constituents and protect wilderness.