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Poll finds Colorado voters strongly support conservation, public lands

Courtesy CPW
Derek Draplin | The Center Square

New polling in both Colorado and other western states shows strong support for conservation and public lands. 

The State of the Rockies Project at Colorado College on Thursday released its “Conservation in the West” poll that details voter opinions in eight western states including Colorado. 

The poll, which surveyed 400 people in Colorado, found that 69 percent of respondents consider themselves conservationists and 81 percent said clean water, clean air, wildlife and public lands are important factors when considering supporting a politician. 

Climate change, pollution, and water were the top three environmental issues for Colorado voters, the poll found.

The poll also found that 68 percent of respondents in the state support “Designating some existing public lands as wilderness areas in western Colorado, limit future drilling on public lands in the Thompson Divide area, and create a national historic landscape at the former site of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.” Meanwhile, 25 percent oppose doing so. 

When it comes to water issues, the polling indicated concern among Colorado voters, with 71 percent of respondents agreeing that “water supplies in the West are becoming more unpredictable every year.”

On specific issues like fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, 70 percent think the program should have dedicated funding while 24 percent oppose dedicated funding. On whether portions of public lands that include migrations corridors should be off limits to oil and gas development, 76 percent of respondents in Colorado support such a designation while 21 percent oppose it. 

A significant majority of Colorado respondents (71 percent compared to 23 percent) also say they support increasing royalty fees to 25 percent for oil and gas companies developing on public lands, the poll found. A plan to protect 30 percent of the country's land and ocean is supported by 74 percent and opposed by 22 percent in Colorado, according to the poll.

“Support for conservation on public lands has remained consistent and strong over the decade-long history of our poll,” political science professor Corina McKendry, the project’s director, said in a statement. “The urgency and demand for action behind those feelings is now intensifying as voters in the West increasingly believe their lands and lifestyles are coming under attack from the impacts of climate change and energy development.”

The project also polled voters in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The poll surveyed voters in those states in January and has 4.9 percent statewide margin of error rate.

The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, a Democratic firm, and New Bridge Strategy, “an opinion research company with roots in Republican politics,” the project said.