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Poll: Voters In Colorado, Nevada Oppose Turning Federal Lands Over To States


While there have been movements in some Western states to have the federal government turn over millions of acres to the states, a poll conducted for the Outdoor Industry Association shows widespread support in Colorado and Nevada for those lands to remain in federal hands.

Strong majorities in both states agreed that "(O)utdoor recreation and related tourism at national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges are an essential part" to their state's economies and quality of life, and that "outdoor traditions and recreation opportunities are so important that we must preserve them for future generations of Americans."

“The polling data confirms what we’ve always believed,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of OIA. “People in Colorado and Nevada, but really all across the West and around the country, regardless of political affiliation, know that outdoor recreation and access to national parks, national forests and national monuments are key to quality of life, job creation and healthy economies in their states. It’s no wonder that an overwhelming majority of voters are in favor of protecting these places and will support candidates who share these beliefs.”

The polling was conducted early in October; 500 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in next year's presidential election were surveyed in each state by Public Opinion Strategies.

Among other findings, the polling showed that 47 percent of the Colorado respondents and 37 percent of those in Nevada want to see their states encouraging development of solar and wind along with renewable energy. Ranking second was a desire to see more "clean" businesses centered around computers and technology, followed by outdoor recreation and related tourism businesses.

When asked whether they would prefer to see their state governments manage public lands now overseen by federal land-management agencies, 64 percent of Colorado voters and 58 percent of Nevada voters said they opposed such a move.

When issues involving federal lands were compared to such issues as the economy, health care, and education, majorities in both states said positions on federal lands were either somewhat or very important when it came to voting for elected officials.

“The survey results show the strong connection that voters in these critical swing states have with national public lands and outdoor recreation,” said Lori Weigel, partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “They recognize the economic contribution that public lands and outdoor recreation make in their state, and want their state to encourage this sector of the economy.”

Consumer spending on outdoor recreation contributes $13.2 billion to Colorado’s economy and $14.9 billion to Nevada’s, as well as billions more in salaries and wages in each state, according to OIA.

A year ago, a larger survey conducted by the Center for American Progress reached much the same conclusion. In that polling, strong numbers voiced positive views of agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, although equally strong numbers held their state governments in higher esteem than the federal government. Overall, though, a slight majority opposed proposals to turn federal lands over to the states.

In Utah, state Rep. Ken Ivory in 2012 sponsored the Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study, which was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert in March 2012. The bill established a deadline of last December 31 for the federal government to turn over Utah'™s nearly 20 million acres of public lands to the state, or it would sue. So far, no lawsuit has been filed. (It should be noted, though, that Utah's Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel advised the Legislature that the measure has "a high probability of being held unconstitutional.")


From this morning's Salt Lake Tribune:

Bags didn't label him, but that snake oil salesman looks a lot like a fella named Ivory who just led a successful charge in the legislature to spend a few billion taxpayer dollars to move a perfectly good prison so developers can get their hands on a few hundred acres of prime real estate.  It's another move by Utah's Republican Socialist Party to soak the taxpayers for the expense while privatizing profits. 

When Lyman was convicted of leading an ATV protest into a canyon closed to motorized travel because of rampant wanton damage and pillaging of ancient sites, the legislature actually tried to pass a bill to fund his legal appeals.  When a public outcry stifled that, the legislators and our governor donated a bunch of dollars from their own pockets.  On top of that, Lyman was just named "County Commissioner of the Year" by his GORSP bedfellows.

We who live in Utah never lack for entertainment.

Kurt - Any link to the poll describing its methodology and the actual questions asked?  Were NV and CO the only states polled or were they they the only states that fell on that side of the issue?  

EC, click on that highlighted "polling data"....

Missed that link - thanks Kurt.

As I suspected, questions 24-26 were very slanted.  They positioned the question as an all or none proposition and added what they perceived as negative implications (costs to the state) without espousing the positives.  This is exactly why I take these kind of surveys with a grain of salt.  

How slanted are they? In Utah, some legislators think the state can do a better job of managing public lands, but how will they afford to do so? By selling off lands, opening them up for development, raising taxes, asking Congress to pass through the funding that now goes to federal land-management agencies to manage the lands?

As for "espousing the positives," should a pollster try to assume what those are, and encounter criticism for missing the mark? Would you say opening the lands to more multiple use (energy development, logging, resorts) is a positive? Is charging more for access a positive?

Unfortunately, Nevada and Colorado were the only states surveyed.

It takes only a short Google search to find that similar surveys have been done repeatedly in other western states with similar results.

should a pollster try to assume what those are

They assumed what the negatives were and put them in the question.  So yes, if they are going to do that they should put in the positives.  In reality they shouldn't put in either.

How different do you think the results would have been had the question been.  "Do you believe some federal lands should be returned to the states to be put to more productive use and generate higher taxes for the State?"  That question would be much closer to what legislators have proposed than the question that was asked.  Noone is calling for the transfer of all federal lands.  

 similar surveys

Similar surveys with similar slants.

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