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Center for Western Priorities hosts Billings panel on importance of outdoor access, policy

Posted: 2:52 PM, Sep 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-21 16:52:45-04

BILLINGS – A panel spoke to a group in Billings Thursday about the importance of outdoor recreation and access to potential voters.

The event was hosted by the Center for Western Priorities, and highlighted the results of a recent survey of western voters on the importance of the outdoors when it comes to their decisions at the polls.

The survey was conducted by Gottlieb Strategic Research, and polled 500 people from five different states (a total of 2,500 people); Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

Their data shows a majority of those who live in the West, no matter party affiliation, place a high value on their access to the outdoors.

“Voters, regardless of whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural community in the west, really value their public lands and look for opportunities to get outdoors,” said Jen Rokala, the executive director for the Center of Western Priorities. “We feel like candidates should be talking to voters about these issues.”

According to the data, 49 percent of Montanans said public lands were ‘very important’, and 38 percent said they were ‘somewhat important’. Of the five western states polled, Montanans placed the highest value on public lands overall, based on the results.

They also polled people on their views of the current state of their states and the country, as well as the Trump administrations policies relating to the outdoors.

According to the report, 38 percent of Montanans polled believe the country is headed in the right direction, 54 percent believe the country is going in the wrong direction, and 8 percent said they didn’t know. Compare those numbers to the Democrats surveyed (in all five states), 90 percent of whom said the country is headed in the wrong direction. 75 percent of Republicans polled said the country was headed in the right direction, while 25 percent said it was not.

46 percent of people in Montana believe the state is heading in the right direction in general. 38 percent believe the state is headed in the wrong direction, and 16 percent said they didn’t know.

When it comes to how potential voters believe the administration is doing on issues related to public lands, 27 percent said they approved, 56 percent said they disprove, and 18 percent said they didn’t know.

Those numbers were than broken down by state. In Montana, 49 percent of voters said the approved of the administrations handling of public lands issues, while 30 percent said they approved, and 21 percent said they didn’t know.

The event was part of the ‘Winning the West’ campaign by the organization. You can download their full report here.