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2016 Conservation Poll Finds Support For Public Lands

Voters in seven Mountain West states represented

Despite an uptick in anti-public lands rhetoric from militant extremists, Colorado College’s recently released State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll shows strong public support for efforts to protect and maintain national public lands.

The poll, for the first time in its six-year history, asks voters about efforts to turn national public lands owned by all Americans over to state or private control. The poll also breaks new ground in examining public views on the creation of new national monuments—a topic that has often been viewed as controversial and unpopular in the West.

Among the poll’s findings: In Utah, a tribal proposal to protect nearly two million acres of existing public lands surrounding the Bears Ears Buttes as a national monument received 66 percent support from respondents. In Arizona, 73 percent of respondents approve of a proposal to protect 1.7 million acres of existing public lands in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a national monument. And across the West, the poll showed 80 percent of respondents in favor of future presidents protecting public lands with a national monument designation.

“These results make clear Western communities care deeply about the public lands that embody the best of our nation’s culture, spirit, and beauty,” says former U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar ’77.

The bipartisan poll, conducted in December, surveyed registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming on key public lands issues affecting the region, including proposals to designate new national monuments in the West, establish new environmental and safety standards for oil and gas drilling, and prioritize renewable energy production on public lands.