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Trump once again floats the idea of being president beyond two terms. Also on the Monday rundown: A new national report ranks children's well-being, from coast to coast; and a Family Care Act gains support.

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Poll: Montanans Agree Conservation is Important for State

Nine out of 10 Montanans in a new poll said outdoor recreation is key for the state's economic future. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
Nine out of 10 Montanans in a new poll said outdoor recreation is key for the state's economic future. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
February 4, 2019

HELENA, Mont. – A large majority of Montanans consider themselves outdoor fanatics and believe the state's natural resources should be protected, according to the ninth annual Conservation in the West Poll from Colorado College.

Eighty percent of respondents in Montana say they are outdoor enthusiasts – the highest number among the eight western states polled.

Montanans also appear to reject the Interior Department's energy dominance agenda, with 60 percent preferring to protect clean air, water and wildlife habitats, compared to 30 percent who want to pursue more domestic energy sources.

"When you turn on the nightly news, all you see is strife and division and disagreement in America,” says Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “And then you see a poll like this, and it shows overwhelming agreement about the importance of conservation."

The poll surveyed 400 registered Montana voters from both parties. Folks in Big Sky Country see an economic reason for protecting the outdoors as well.

Ninety percent say the outdoor recreation economy is important for the future of Montana and other western states.

Pollster Dave Metz says Westerners' support for protecting the environment goes further than simply emphasizing conservation. Many say they are willing to pay more to improve management of local public lands.

"Across the board in every single state, we had not just majorities, but roughly 3-in-5 or more telling us that they would be willing to tax themselves more to raise dollars to address these concerns at a local level," he points out.

Part of protecting the environment includes addressing wildfires. According to the survey, 68 percent of Montanans think fires are a bigger problem for the West than they were 10 years ago.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT