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Voters’ Views of Conservation

From now until November elections, we will be asked to answer many surveys. I usually complete them when asked because it gives me a chance to share my opinions. And when we at River Action ask questions on a survey following a program, for example, we are delighted when they are returned. That’s why I was pleased to read the results that spelled out what voters’ think about conservation from a recent survey taken by a conservation group. I want to share some of those results.

Four out of five American voters say that conservation of our natural resources is patriotic. This view is widely held across the political spectrum. In fact, many say it is one of the best things that government does. They also said they are twice as likely to say they prefer to spend time outdoors as inside. Outdoors was selected 60% of the time; while indoors was selected 27% of the time. Of notice, teens were much more divided over where they prefer to spend free time. Outdoors and indoors received 30% and 29% respectively.

When asked if protecting land and water has a strong economic connection to good jobs without having to choose one over the other, 76% said ‘yes’. They believe that environmental protections have a positive impact rather than little impact or a negative impact on jobs.

The connection between public lands and quality of life is even stronger than the connection to the economy and jobs. Eighty-seven percent agree that ‘state and national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas ae an essential part of my state’s quality of life’.

So, what we do with survey results is the essential question. Can it inform our plan and zone commissions within our communities? We can make sure that economic development focus on finding new commercial users to fill existing capacities like vacant buildings and vacant or underutilized parcels in already zoned commercial properties. Sprawl threatens efficiency and can dramatically change a community’s character.

This survey also dispels the myth that agricultural and open spaces could be more productive if they were allowed to be developed with more active uses. In fact, smart growth steers development where it will have the least impact on our natural and fiscal resources like agriculture. Paying attention to voters’ views on surveys such as this one can lead to an improved business climate and quality of life in America.