A poll conducted by Colorado College reveals that 73% of Wyoming voters think of themselves as conservationists. Program coordinator Brendan Boepple says polled residents also believe that public lands support the state’s economy and that they should not be sold to alleviate deficits.
“There’s lots of rhetoric surrounding the selling of public lands to reduce deficit, usually on a state level,” says Boepple, “and what we’re seeing is that that rhetoric coming from politicians in Washington and politicians in the west isn’t necessarily consistent with what people really feel about their public lands.”
Boepple says 94% of Wyoming voters see public land as a driving force in the state’s economy and that that trend has increased over the past three years that the poll has been conducted.
“This trend is continuing to grow,” he says, “really, is what we’re seeing, is that people are acknowledging that employers, anywhere from IT to service jobs, are driven to western states because of the access to public lands and because of the natural beauty and natural amenities that are provided by them.”
Wind and natural gas top the list of preferred energy sources. Half of respondents believed oil and gas drilling is taking place in national forests, around a third mistakenly believed that drilling is also taking place in national parks. Water is also a big concern among residents, with 63% of Wyomingites reporting snowpack levels are a serious issue.