Poll: NM Voters Show Bipartisan Support for Public Lands
Friday, February 1, 2019
ALBUQUERQUE, M.N. – Voters in eight Western states, including New Mexico, oppose policies by the Trump administration that shrink national monuments and promote oil and gas development as part of an "energy dominance" agenda.
Both Republicans and Democrats responding to the ninth annual "Conservation in the West" poll said conservation, not resource extraction, should guide management on public lands.
Robert Fanger, chief communications officer with the Hispanic Access Foundation, says Latinos have historically been left out of the conversation about public lands, but that is changing.
"Since 2012, we've seen this community, even in a limited manner, embrace its role as environmental stewards and change the perception of Latinos in conservation," says Fanger.
The poll was released in conjunction with this week's Outdoor Industry Association trade show in Denver. Many outdoor retailers have vowed to ramp up political pressure to encourage voters to prioritize public lands as an issue.
Amy Roberts, executive director with the Outdoor Industry Association, says those polled see a disconnect between decisions made at the federal level and the wishes of voters in the West. And she doesn't think Congress is meeting its responsibility to fund public-lands maintenance.
"If you look at the portion of the discretionary budget that went to public-lands funding 10 years ago, it was 2 percent, and now it's at 1 percent, so we're seeing a decline there," says Roberts.
Seventy-three percent of New Mexico voters in the poll said they consider themselves "conservationists." Fanger believes as Latinos embrace their electoral power, they'll help shift the balance on conservation issues.
"Latinos represent perhaps the largest untapped segment of the population that has a passion for the outdoors, provides growth potential for the recreational economy and has a willingness to protect our nation's natural resources for future generations," says Fanger.
Respondents across all eight states in the poll also said they'd be willing to increase taxes for conservation.
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