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The latest Trump child-detention policy sparks harsh criticism. Also on the Thursday rundown: New York sues the EPA over Hudson River PCBs.

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New Poll: A Vote for More Wilderness

July 23, 2008

Bend, OR - More than 1,000 people who described themselves as "likely voters" across the country told pollsters this month they think protecting public land as wilderness is important. Of those surveyed, 87 percent say protecting wilderness is important to them. And, no matter what their political party, 71 percent also said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who feels that way, too. Oregon voters are awaiting the outcome of several federal bills to create new wilderness areas in the state.

Brent Fenty, with the Oregon Natural Desert Association, says the poll reflects a renewed interest in conservation.

"Our communities are growing and the wild areas surrounding our communities are being affected by development. When it comes to voting, I certainly think folks want Congressional representatives and local representatives who will protect those wild places, so that we will continue to have the high quality of life we enjoy as Americans."

Mike Matz, executive director of Campaign for America's Wilderness, says people also work hard, in Oregon and elsewhere, on the "front end" of wilderness legislation. As a result, he says, by the time the bills get to Congress they have a better chance of passing.

"It percolates from the ground up. It's regular people. It's Main Street. And that's why it's getting the attention it finally deserves."

Congress is considering more than a dozen wilderness bills, including protections for two of Oregon's high desert areas, the Badlands and Spring Basin. Depending on which bills pass, between 1 million and 2 million acres of designated wilderness will be added to the federal system.

The Zogby International poll took place by phone, from July 9 through July 13, and included 1,039 respondents.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR