• September 25th, 2021
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Voters Outline Priorities for Public Lands


Mountain West voters weighed in on the Trump Administration’s priorities for managing the use and protection of national public lands in a new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll released recently.

The poll, now in its seventh year, surveyed the views of voters in seven Mountain West states on some of the most pressing issues involving public lands as the new administration begins its time in office. In addition to the overall findings, Colorado College also released findings specific to Latino voters.

Asked what the Trump Administration should emphasize, 75 percent of Latinos said they prefer protecting water, air and wildlife while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on national public lands.

Latinos view the protection of our public lands as a moral obligation.

Looking to potential actions the Trump Administration might undertake on public lands, voters in the Mountain West prioritized efforts that improve access, support the outdoor recreation economy and invest in renewable energy. Drilling for oil and gas or mining for coal on public lands was much less popular with voters.

“As leadership changes hands in Washington D.C., and Congress votes in new budget rules removing any monetary value from public lands, voters in the Mountain West are sending a clear statement that they do not want to see a dramatic change of course when it comes to national public lands,” said Dr. Walt Hecox, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Colorado College and founder of the State of the Rockies Project.

Approval of the federal land management agencies was high as the new administration begins its tenure. 70 percent of Latinos approved of the U.S. Forest Service, 79 percent approved of the National Park Service, 79 percent approved of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and 57 percent approved of the Bureau of Land Management.

The poll asked voters about efforts to turn national public lands owned by all Americans over to state government control. The proposal remained unpopular, with 56 percent of Latinos opposed.

“The national political winds change direction every few years, but a passion for the outdoors and strong support for American public lands remain constant in the Mountain West,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock. “Public lands drive our economy and define our way of life in Montana and in surrounding states. We have too much to lose if we allow these national treasures to be put at risk.”

The idea of removing existing national monument designations put in place over the past decade to protect public lands was a non-starter for Western voters. 89 percent of Latinos supported keeping the monument designations in place compared to just 6 percent who wanted them removed.

“Latinos view the protection of our public lands as a moral obligation. Time and again, we hear Latino youth and community leaders say these public lands are important to us and we must protect them for future generations,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation. “A number of the national monuments passed in the last decade greatly increased the diversity of stories and sites protected by our public land management agencies. This has helped ensure a broader representation of America is honored and reflected in our system of public lands.”

The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of seven Western states (AZ, CO, MT, NV, NM, UT & WY).