Governor Steve Bullock today delivered a keynote address on the value of public lands and conservation at an event celebrating the 10th annual Conservation in the West poll.
“Folks out West have a special appreciation for our public lands, and we know our public lands are our heritage, our birthright, and our great equalizer,” said Governor Bullock. “In this age of polarization, our return to shared values and our work to conserve our region’s natural heritage and public lands is precisely what we need to chart a path forward.”
Montana is one of eight Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) included in a poll conducted by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project each year to gauge the public’s sentiment on public land and conservation issues.
The poll results announced Thursday found residents in the Mountain West are concerned about the impacts of climate change and energy development and encouraged leaders to act to protect public lands aggressively.
Residents continue to identify an outdoor way of life as important, and 69 percent labeled themselves as conservationists. Another 80 percent of voters consider an elected official’s stance on issues involving water, air, wildlife, and public lands “important” when deciding whether to support them. Approximately 44 percent say those issues are a “primary factor” in their decision, a marked increase from 30 percent in 2016.
Governor Bullock called the poll results inspiring and urged leaders to respond to the results of the poll and boost conservation efforts.
“The Conservation in the West Poll is critical to highlighting the voices of many of us in the West – with unique, diverse perspectives, but in unity of the values our lands bring to us and our fight in conserving them,” Governor Bullock said. “We come from all walks of life, but we can agree on one thing: America’s greatest idea is indeed worth protecting. Today we recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect, preserve, and promote our national treasures.”
Governor Bullock’s full remarks as prepared for delivery can be found at this link.
The Conservation in the West poll offers results by state. Montana highlights include:
- 75 percent of Montanans consider themselves a conservationist.
- Compared to other issues, 84 percent say that issues involving clean water, clean air, wildlife, and public lands are important in deciding whether to support an elected official
- 85 percent think companies should be required to pay fees for mining on public lands.
- 67 percent support full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
- 70 percent support a national goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s land and oceans by 2030.
The national results also found:
- 70 percent support fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with strong majority approval for the program across party lines.
- 67 percent want their member of Congress to protect national public lands over allowing more drilling and mining.
- 70 percent agree that private companies should not profit from using public lands when it limits the public’s enjoyment of the area.
- 79 percent say the lack of resources to properly maintain public lands is a serious problem.
The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of eight Western states (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, & WY) for a total 3,200-person sample. The survey was conducted between January 11-19, 2020, and has a margin of error of ±2.65 percent nationwide and ±4.9 percent statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the State of the Rockies website.