Poll Underscores Views of Westerners, Hunters, Anglers: Leaders Should Prioritize Wildlife, Lands Conservation

DENVER — Colorado College’s Conservation in the West poll confirms what hunters and anglers have long known: Westerners want elected officials to focus on conserving wildlife, restoring public lands, safeguarding clean air and water, and expanding opportunities for all people to access nature. The poll also showed that Westerners want leaders to reform the federal oil and gas leasing system for the nation’s public lands. These issues have long been the focus of sporting conservation efforts.

“We hope that elected officials, and all those charged with creating policies and managing our lands, will take heed of these poll results. The sporting community has seen first-hand the deleterious effects of poor land management, irresponsible development, unnaturally large fires, low water levels in our favorite streams, and marked declines in some of our favorite species like the mule deer. It is abundantly clear we need to enact forward-thinking policies that conserve and restore our valuable natural resources and secure our Western way of life for future generations. The time to do so is now,” said Aaron Kindle, director of sporting advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation

"The poll's numbers are staggering and confirm the vital role the outdoors play in Idahoan's lives and livelihoods. Eighty-three percent of Idahoans say issues of wildlife, clean water, and public lands are as important as the economy, healthcare and education when supporting elected officials. Three out of four Idahoans support public lands as integral to our economy and want to expand public lands for outdoor recreation. Two out of every three are concerned about the future of our outdoors and poorly planned development and support the national goal of conserving 30% of land and waters by 2030,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. “Despite this, we do not see these values reflected in policy by our elected officials in Idaho. That is why the Idaho Wildlife Federation is committed to mobilizing and elevating community networks across the state to showcase grassroots support for conservation and the outdoors."

"Unlike our water availability forecast, this polling is crystal clear. Seventy-four percent of New Mexicans are concerned about the low levels of waters in our rivers, 73% are worried about our extended drought, and a majority of New Mexicans think the loss of wildlife habitat is a very serious concern,” said Jesse Deubel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Without water we don't have wildlife. Without wildlife, our hunting and angling traditions cannot continue. The results of this poll clearly illustrate how concerned Westerners are about the conditions on our public lands and the urgent need for elected officials to take action to conserve our wildlife and sporting traditions.” 

The poll surveyed voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Here are some key findings from all of the states combined:
•    77% support a national goal of conserving and restoring 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030
•    73% are extremely or very seriously concerned about low levels of water in rivers 
•    51% are extremely or very seriously concerned about population declines of fish and wildlife
•    91% support requiring oil and gas companies — not taxpayers — to pay for cleanup and land restoration after drilling is completed 
•    65% support increased fees for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands

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