According to the 2012 Colorado College State of the Rockies "Conservation in the West" poll, the majority of Western voters, regardless of their political persuasion, "view parks and public lands as essential to their state's economy."
What's more, the poll says, these voters are in favor of keeping rules in place that protect clean air, clean water and backcountry lands.
This is refreshing news, given a number of efforts afoot to diminish the reach of rules and regulations requiring development interests to protect the quality of our air and our water. And, in the West, where the effects of what sportsmen are calling the Assault on our Sporting Heritage Act would be most obvious, it's heartening to see that voters support the protection of our intact wild country that supports our best game and wild fish populations.
Trout Unlimited, particularly through its Sportsmen's Conservation project , has long advocated the protection of intact habitat, and the need for responsible industrial development on public lands that takes into account irreplacable fish and game habitat. To know that Western voters support these ideals, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, is indeed encouraging.
Here's hoping this poll finds its way to elected officials in Congress who need to hear from everyday citizens that our public lands and our opens spaces matter to them. They need to hear that these lands aren't just great for hunting, fishing and a host of other outdoor pursuits, but that they're invaluable to the Western regional economy that is embracing these public lands for what they offer locals and visitors alike.
As we're fond of saying here at TU: Intact habitat translates directly into opportunity, which encourages economic activity in the outdoors/recreation economy.
If you're interested in helping spread the word, please contact your representatives and senators in Congress and share with them the results of this poll. They need to hear it, and they'll only hear it if we take the time let them know we care about our public lands and our regional economy that benefits so greatly from the West's wide open spaces.