The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project has released its ninth annual Conservation in the West Poll, showing that voters in the Mountain West continue to support efforts to keep public lands protected and accessible.
The poll surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) on policies that affect the use and protection of public lands. The role of public lands and the outdoor way of life continued to be of deep importance to Western voters. Seventy percent view themselves as “outdoor recreation enthusiasts” and 68 percent label themselves as “conservationists.” For 63 percent of respondents, the ability to live near, recreate on, and enjoy public lands like national forests, parks, or trails are a factor in why they live in the West. An overwhelming majority — 87 percent — believe the outdoor economy is important to the future of their state.
When asked about the Trump administration’s agenda for public lands, a majority of respondents viewed key actions over the past two years with strong disapproval.
The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the State of the Rockies website
Corina McKendry, director of the State of the Rockies Project and an associate professor of political science at Colorado College, says that over the history of the Conservation in the West Poll, there has been bipartisan support for projecting public lands and outdoor spaces. “That a leadership agenda out of step with those values is met with disapproval in the West is no surprise, although the rejection of the current administration’s priorities is particularly intense here.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis commented on Conservation in the West, saying, “This poll once again shows that Coloradans are adamant about protecting our natural spaces, reversing the harmful effects of climate change, and moving to a future of clean, affordable, renewable energy. Our state’s mountains, rivers, and prairies are the foundation of the Colorado way of life. Protecting our public lands not only strengthens our local economies by promoting outdoor recreation and tourism, it ensures that future generations will continue to have a vibrant place to live, work, start a business, raise a family, and retire.”
For the past 16 years, the college has sponsored the State of the Rockies Project, which seeks to enhance public understanding of and action to address socio-environmental challenges in the Rocky Mountain West through collaborative student-faculty research, education, and stakeholder engagement.
Conservation in the West is a bipartisan survey conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates.
The poll surveyed at least 400 registered voters in each of eight Western states, for a total 3,204-person sample.