A new public opinion poll out today shows that a majority of the voters in eight western states oppose transferring American public lands over to state management and responsibility. The poll shows that westerners know that our public lands are too valuable to our western economy and way of life to auction them off to the highest bidder.
These findings are both timely and significant, as this issue has become central in elections throughout the American West. For example, some public officials in Montana are running on a platform of support for land transfers, and in 2012 the state of Utah enacted a law calling for public lands to be transferred to the state. But today’s polling results show that western voters value our public lands too much, and don’t want that to happen—and wisely so.
Among other things, the results from the bipartisan survey of 1,600 western voters show:
These data also prove that voters strongly identify with the American West’s outdoor way of life in each of the eight western states, and are actively living out that tradition. Forty six percent of the respondents identified as sportsmen, and only a very tiny sliver of respondents—7%—said they hadn’t visited public lands a single time this year. This poll just further solidifies what we already know—that public lands should stay as ‘American’ lands as they have been for generations.