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Poll: Americans Want To Protect Country's "Wild Side"

July 28, 2008

Washington, DC – The White House has been pushing for more oil drilling on public lands here at home, but a new Zogby poll finds many Americans think it's important to be sure wilderness areas are preserved - which includes blocking them from energy development. The poll found nine in ten likely voters, including Iowans, support protecting wild areas through the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Anita O'Gara, vice-president and development director of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, believes such voters should be doing more to make their voices heard.

"It's important for people who really love the natural world to speak out on its behalf, because the natural world cannot speak out on its own. It's up to people who know and love and appreciate it to step forward and be heard. "

O'Gara says the poll shows that, even though Iowa doesn't have any wilderness areas, Iowans still care about wild places.

"I think, in their hearts, people really do value prime natural areas, great places where they can experience nature at its best - or even just to know it's out there, even if they never get to experience it personally. "

Congress is currently considering more than a dozen wilderness bills, although certain business interests, including the logging industry, have been opposed to additional federal wilderness designations. They say harvesting timber reduces fire risks and tree disease.

The Zogby International poll, of 1039 "likely voters," was taken by phone from July 7-13.

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA