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Poll shows conservation concerns have spiked in Mountain West

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Poll data gathered in January suggests the conservation concerns of Mountain West voters have spiked over the last year and cover issues like drought, diminishing water supplies and climate change.

TheConservation in the West Poll, conducted for the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, included 3,440 interviews with registered voters in eight states. Results show 69% of voters are concerned about the environment’s future and climate change is the main reason they are pessimistic.

Pollster Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy said during a press conference Thursday that during the first poll in 2011, 40% of voters were concerned about inadequate water supplies. This year that number jumped to 70%. She and another pollster on the project, Dave Metz of FM3 Research, said it’s not a partisan worry.

“When you get a 30 point increase in terms of concern about water, that means everyone is more concerned about water today than what they were before,” Weigel said.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents support a national goal to conserve 30% of land and water in the U.S. by 2030 — a proposal by President Joe Biden.

Increasing gas prices also led pollsters to dive into energy, and how voters view drilling and mining on public lands. Metz said 7 out of 10 voters want to limit drilling or stop it entirely.

“So at the same time that voters are concerned about gas prices, it has done nothing to diminish their desire to protect nature areas and limit the way oil and gas drilling takes place on national public lands,” Metz said.

A politician’s views on clean water and air or public lands play a large role in who 86% of Mountain West voters support.

Another aspect of the poll asked residents about specific conservation efforts in their states. For example, 73% of New Mexicans polled wished to create a national conservation area in the Caja del Rio plateau near Santa Fe to better protect grasslands and canyons along small rivers flowing into the Rio Grande.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson
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