Archive for January, 2016

Wide margins of support for local efforts to protect public lands as national monuments; voters want a balanced approach to energy development 

Photo by Travis Lynch

Against an uptick in anti-public lands rhetoric from militant extremists, a new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll released today revealed strong public support for efforts to protect and maintain national public lands. 

The poll surveyed the views of voters in seven Mountain West states on key public lands issues affecting the region, including proposals to designate new national monuments in the West, establish new environmental and safety standards for oil and gas drilling, and prioritize renewable energy production on public lands. Central to recent local controversies in Burns, Oregon and elsewhere, the poll—for the first time in its six-year history—asked voters about efforts to turn national public lands owned by all Americans over to state or private control.  

  • 58 percent of respondents oppose giving state governments control over national public lands.  
  • 60 percent of respondents oppose selling significant holdings of public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit.  

That view was echoed in Nevada, where just 30 percent of respondents identify as supportive of Cliven Bundy, the local rancher who led an armed confrontation with federal authorities in April 2014. “Charges of government overreach from the ideological fringes are making headlines, but in reality most Westerners in this poll favor greater protection and sensible use of the open lands and national treasures that define the region,” said Eric Perramond, professor in the Southwest Studies and Environmental Programs at Colorado College, and the Faculty Director of the State of the Rockies Project. 

The poll also broke new ground in examining public views on the creation of new national monuments—a topic that has often been portrayed as controversial and unpopular in the West. Yet in Utah, a tribal proposal to protect nearly two million acres of existing public lands surrounding the Bears Ears Buttes as a national monument received 66 percent support from respondents. In Arizona, 73 percent of respondents approved of a proposal to protect 1.7 million acres of existing public lands in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a national monument. 

According to the poll, monuments created at the end of the Clinton administration, which generated controversy at the time, enjoy wide margins of support today. Across the West, the poll showed overwhelming support—80 percent in favor—for future presidents protecting public lands with a national monument designation. “These results make clear Western communities care deeply about the public lands that embody the best of our nation’s culture, spirit and beauty,” said former U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar. “Western voters see our outdoor heritage as integral to our economy and our way of life, and they certainly don’t want to see their public lands seized by ideologues or sold off by politicians in Washington.”  

The poll also looked at energy issues at a time when price fluctuations and market changes make the future of oil, gas and coal industries unpredictable. Voters expressed a balanced view when it comes to how national public lands are used by private industries: 

  •  52 percent of respondents approve of continuing drilling and mining at the current pace, but with increased safeguards for land and water—a view that significantly outweighs alternatives approaches, including increasing drilling and mining (10 percent), maintaining the current pace without additional safeguards (10 percent), and stopping all drilling and mining (22 percent). 
  • 76 percent of respondents want to continue tax incentives for solar and wind energy production. 
  • 58 percent of respondents support increasing the royalty fees paid by companies that drill for oil and gas or mine for coal and minerals on national public lands. • 80 percent of respondents agree with a proposed Obama Administration rule to require oil and gas producers who operate on national public lands to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas during the extraction process and reduce the need to burn off excess natural gas into the air. 

Additional key findings include: 

  • Ahead of the 2016 elections, 75 percent of respondents say issues involving public lands, waters, and wildlife are an important factor in deciding whether to support an elected public official, compared to other issues like health care and education.   
  • 83 percent of respondents believe the drought is a serious issue and in Colorado River Basin states (CO, NV, NM & UT) strong majorities favor using the current water supply more wisely over diverting more water from rivers in less populated areas.   
  • 75 percent of respondents support the renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 
  • 80 percent of respondents believe the U.S. Forest Service should be allowed to treat the largest and most expensive wildfires as natural disasters in order to have access to emergency disaster funding. 
  • 72 percent of respondents say national public lands, such as national forests, national monuments, or wildlife refuges help their state economy.

This is the sixth consecutive year Colorado College has gauged the public’s sentiment on public lands and conservation issues. The 2016 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. Nevada voters were included in the survey for the first time this year. 

The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of seven Western states (AZ, CO, MT, NV, NM, UT & WY) for a total 2,800-person sample. The survey was conducted in December and has a margin of error of +/-2.74 percent nationwide and +/ -4.9 percent statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the Colorado College website. 


About Colorado College Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 2,000 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive three and a half-week segments. For the past twelve years, the college has sponsored the State of the Rockies Project, which seeks to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rocky Mountain West through annual reports, free events, discussions and other activities. 

About Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3)—a national Democratic opinion research firm with offices in Oakland, Los Angeles and Madison, Wisconsin—has specialized in public policy oriented opinion research since 1981. The firm has assisted hundreds of political campaigns at every level of the ballot—from President to City Council—with opinion research and strategic guidance. FM3 also provides research and strategic consulting to public agencies, businesses and public interest organizations nationwide. 

About Public Opinion Strategies Public Opinion Strategies is the largest Republican polling firm in the country. Since the firm’s founding in 1991, they have completed more than 10,000 research projects, interviewing more than five million Americans across the United States. Public Opinion Strategies’ research is well respected, and prestigious media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, and CNBC rely on Public Opinion Strategies to conduct their polling. The firm conducts opinion research on behalf of hundreds of political campaigns, as well as trade associations, not-forprofit organizations, government entities, and industry coalitions throughout the nation. 

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Great Lakes Outdoors


Alliance for the Great Lakes – National Wildlife Federation

Marc Smith, National Wildlife Federation, 734-887-7116, msmith@nwf.org
Molly Flanagan, Alliance for the Great Lakes, 312-445-974, mflanagan@greatlakes.org

First Request to Divert Great Lakes Water Heads to Regional Governors and Premiers

Yesterday the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forwarded the City of Waukesha’s application to divert Great Lakes water to the governors of the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian premiers for review. It’s the first time a request to divert Great Lakes water has been put to the region’s governors and premiers since passage of a historic pact to prevent water diversions of the iconic Lakes, while promoting wise water use in the region.

Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation, and Molly Flanagan, vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, both serve on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence…

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Photo by Lew Carpenter

Reports from Burns, Oregon indicate that some community members condemn the violent tactics of the Bundy family and the militants but support their goals of turning American public lands over to private owners.

Without question, some in the West—including some citizens in Burns—share the view that the U.S. government’s ownership and management of the region’s public lands are to blame for economic challenges. Yet public opinion research indicates that this view is actually not shared widely in the region.

A large majority of Westerners see public lands as an asset to their state’s economy, not an economic drag. This perspective is confirmed by economic research that shows that areas with more protected public lands


Photo by Lew Carpenter

have grown at a faster rate than other areas in the West.

Here are five key facts to know about Westerners’ opinions about federal land management agencies, and more information about what has actually caused economic challenges in the rural West:

1) A majority of Westerners approve of the job federal land management agencies are doing.

majority of Western voters approve of the job that the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service are each doing. Despite heavy criticism that the Bundy family and militants are directing at the BLM, only 23 percent of Western voters disapprove of the agency’s work.

2) Westerners support keeping public lands public.

Public opinion research conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters determined that a majority of voters in the American West do not support


Photo by Lew Carpenter

a transfer of national public lands to state management, and instead believe that these places belong to all Americans.

3) Public lands are an asset, not a drain on local economies.

91% of Western voters believe public lands are an essential part of their state’s economy. They provide a variety of economic benefits such grazing, oil drilling, recreation, and benefits that are not as easily monetizable (like option value). Economic research has shown that Western counties with more protected national public lands have added jobs more than four times faster than counties with fewer protected lands.

4) Many factors are to blame for the very real difficulties faced by the rural West.

Some resource-based economies are struggling because of myriad factors including globalization, the transition to a cleaner energy, and a Western economy increasingly based on knowledge and service industries. Some areas in the West are struggling. While public lands and land managers can be a convenient scapegoat, there’s no data to support the blame.

5) Giving our American lands to the states or private interests is not a panacea for these problems.

The additional burden of managing millions of acres of public lands could break state budgets because the massive costs of fighting wildfires and cleaning up polluting mines would be transferred to state taxpayers. Grazing fees that ranchers pay would triple or quadruple at a minimum. A better option is to engage in collaborative efforts to manage public lands have worked, such as those that have taken place at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

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Plan now to attend our Public Lands Rally!

New Mexico hunters and anglers have a lot to be thankful for as the new year begins. Our wildlife populations are, for the most part, thriving. With the input of local communities, federal and state management agencies are beginning to work collaboratively to tackle landscape-scale habitat work to protect our watersheds. Good rains and deep snows have set the recent drought back on its heels.

But there remains a looming threat – the potential loss of more than 20 million acres of national forest and BLM lands in New Mexico and millions more nationwide. Well-financed and politically powerful anti-public lands forces continue to push their agenda to transfer these national public lands to individual states all over the West. In New Mexico, forests, streams, mountains and plains that are currently owned by and open to all Americans would fall under the control of one person – the State Land Commissioner – whose sole responsibility is to make a profit off those lands through sale, trade, development or lease.

Think it can’t happen? Think again. Only Congress has the power to make this transfer, but both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed resolutions in favor of it, and many presidential candidates say they support it. That’s all it would take – passage by Congress and approval by the president – and these public lands would begin their transition to private control.

Hunters, anglers and all other public lands users need to speak out loud and clear against this greedy scheme. Sportsmen and women are holding rallies all over the nation, including at the State Capitol in Santa Fe on Thursday, Jan. 21. Please join your fellow hunters, anglers and other public lands users at the Roundhouse at 2 p.m., and tell our elected officials to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY PUBLIC LANDS!

It is crucial for sportsmen and women to show up and speak out. Take a day off work – tell your boss you’re sick (at the thought of losing our national forests and BLM lands to the state). Bring a friend, bring your kids, bring your parents, but plan to attend. This is about your future opportunity to hunt, fish and recreate on public lands! Call us to arrange transportation at (505) 299-5404.

Learn more

Join us at any of the following sportsmen’s meetings to discuss the fate of our public lands and plan how to fight the effort to steal our national public lands heritage:

  • Albuquerque – Jan. 13, 6 p.m., Tractor Brewing Co. (1800 Fourth St. NW), contact Joel Gay, (505) 299-5404
  • Espanola – TBD, contact Max Trujillo, (505) 617-1851
  • Santa Fe ­– TBD, contact Max Trujillo, (505) 617-1851
  • Taos – TBD, contact Max Trujillo, (505) 617-1851
  • Springer/Raton – TBD, contact Max Trujillo, (505) 617-1851

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