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A Strong Vote For Keeping Some Things “Wild”

July 24, 2008

St. Paul, MN - Preserving the nation's wilderness has a high national priority among likely voters, according to a new poll by Zogby International, which shows nine out of ten of those surveyed favor protecting and preserving public lands.

Paul Aasen with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says that's welcome, but not surprising, news.

"The results of the poll indicate that even though more Americans live in cities now than ever before, they still value the land, the public land. They value the connection to the wilderness that their forefathers had."

The survey found almost 75 percent of respondents indicated they'd be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports protecting the nation's wilderness. Aasen says the results show voters will be taking a close look at the environmental records of candidates.

He believes the poll could be an indicator of the outcome of a closely-watched ballot question.

"The issue that connects most closely to Minnesotans in the near future is an election issue, and has to do with a constitutional amendment for funding to protect water, wild lands and arts and historical legacy in the state. And this poll would indicate to me that Minnesotans are ready to put their money where their mouth is, and to protect the public lands that they value."

The amendment would slightly increase the state sales tax to fund wildlife-related programs.

Aasen explains the poll results indicate strong public disappointment over current policies.

"Traditionally, federal administrations have had great executive authority to manage public lands. And there's been disappointment in how the Bush administration has used that authority. I think this poll is saying the American people have taken notice and they want something different, something better, when it comes to their public lands."

Congress is considering more than a dozen wilderness bills, which could be acted on this year. Aasen believes they would add a lot of land to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

More information on the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is available on the group's web site,
www.mncenter.org.

Jim Wishner/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MN