Utah voters expressed strong opinions in a new poll on issues such as climate change, protecting public lands and outdoor recreation.
In the ninth annual "Conservation in the West" poll from Colorado College, two-thirds of voters polled in eight Western states identified themselves as conservationists, and strongly endorsed policies that protect land, water and wildlife.
Pollster Lori Weigel, principal at New Bridge Strategy, said the vast majority of Utahns believe the outdoor recreation economy is very important to the state's future.
"We asked about whether they thought of themselves as an outdoor recreation enthusiast," Weigel said. "And it's not just a stereotype about the West; they are embracing it - seven in 10 told us they consider themselves to be an outdoor recreation enthusiast."
Three-in-five Utah voters polled also said they want the new Congress to place more emphasis on protecting water, air quality and wildlife habitat. More than half want states to invest in conserving wildlife corridors used for migration. Most said access to public lands is a significant reason they live in the West. And two-thirds believe wildfires are a bigger threat now than 10 years ago.
The survey also found Utah voters want more funding to protect and restore the health of rivers, lakes, and streams. Pollster Dave Metz, president of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, said they joined voters in other states in wanting more public input on decisions about public lands.
"Almost two-thirds of voters said that their priority was protecting sources of clean water, air quality and wildlife habitat, as well as opportunities for recreation," Metz said. "While only about one-quarter said that producing more domestic energy and maximizing land available for oil and gas drilling and mining was a priority for them."
The annual Conservation in the West poll is a bipartisan survey conducted by both Republican and Democratic polling firms. They surveyed at least 400 registered voters in each of eight Western states.