New polling out Thursday from Colorado College that shows Montanans and Americans throughout the West support conservation of wildlife habitat and collaborative strategies to protect and preserve vital migration corridors. The poll also raises concerns about the Department of the Interior’s singular focus on energy development — to the exclusion of responsible stewardship of wildlife and public lands.
"This latest Conservation in the West poll confirms once more just how much Montanans love our wildlife, public lands, and clean waters, and that we want our lawmakers to work together to protect these resources for future generations. At a time when our country is so deeply divided, conservation continues to be the issue that can bring Americans together,” said Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “These results also show shared support, not only for wildlife stewardship in Montana, but also the growing consensus that fragmented habitat and migration corridors need collaborative solutions.”
“Americans in the West and beyond understand that when we save wildlife, we save ourselves,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This new polling shows Westerners reject an unbalanced ‘energy dominance’ approach to management and instead want policymakers to focus on collaborative, win-win solutions to protect our land, water and wildlife for future generations. The poll also shows overwhelming support for restoring wildlife migration corridors through collaborative efforts among landowners, ranchers, conservationists, university researchers, wildlife biologists and elected leaders.”
The Colorado College Conservation in the West Poll found strong support by Montanans for conservation:
- 90 percent of Montanans believe that the outdoor economy is important to our state.
- 82 percent of Montanans want Congress to provide dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports acquisition of new public lands and public access.
- 76 percent of Montanans want the government to prioritize protection of rivers and streams.
- 60 percent of Montanans oppose the rollback of Clean Water Act protections for small streams and seasonal wetlands.
The poll also showed nearly 90 percent of Americans across the West would support “incentives for landowners” who conserve habitat or take other steps to reduce disturbances from wildlife along migration corridors for antelope, mule deer and other wildlife. The poll also found that nearly two-thirds of Americans in those Western states prioritize protections for water, air and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation over “maximizing” oil and natural gas extraction from public lands.
Poll results also reveal that respondents overwhelmingly think the outdoor recreation economy will be important to their state’s economic future: about two-thirds of respondents in most of the states say that people who come to hunt, fish, camp, boat, see wildlife — as well as those who manufacture and sell equipment for those activities — will be “very important” to their economic future.
Dave Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation, email@example.com, 406-438-6478
Mike Saccone, National Wildlife Federation, SacconeM@nwf.org, 202-797-6634