Western voters are more worried about nature than ever before

Feb 15, 2024

Western voters strongly prefer conservation over other uses of public lands and those issues play a key role in how they will vote in the 2024 elections, according to the 14th annual Conservation in the West Poll from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project.

The bipartisan poll, which surveyed the views of voters in eight Western states, found over two-thirds of voters are worried about the future of land, water, and wildlife. Compared to other issues like the economy, health care, and education, 85 percent say issues involving clean water, clean air, wildlife, and public lands are important in deciding whether to support an elected official. Seventy percent of voters prefer their congressional representatives place more emphasis on protecting clean water, air quality, and wildlife habitat than on maximizing the amount of public lands available for responsible oil and gas drilling and mining. For the first time in the poll’s history, prioritizing conservation over maximizing energy production received majority support among Republicans and Independents.

“There may be a lot that divides voters across the country, but in the West there is nearly universal consensus in favor of conservation,” said Katrina Miller-Stevens, Director of the State of the Rockies Project and an associate professor at Colorado College. “Not only do voters prefer conservation when asked how public lands and water should be utilized, but issues involving water, air, land, and wildlife are top of mind when they make their voting decisions.”

As seen in previous poll results, public lands and the outdoors play an important role in Western lifestyles, and Western voters also view connecting with nature as vital for their well-being. Ninety-three percent say spending more time outdoors would help counter growing rates of anxiety, depression, and mental health problems in young people.

You can read the full poll results and look back at previous years at the Colorado College State of the Rockies website.

Quick hits

Poll: Western voters show bipartisan support for conservation on public lands

KUNM | Grand Junction Daily Sentinel | Utah News Dispatch | KNAU | Axios | NBC Montana | Westword | Missoula Current | CPR News | Public News Service

For Grand Teton and partners, it’s $100 million max for Kelly parcel

Jackson Hole News and Guide

Anxiety builds as deadline nears for rulemakings

E&E News

Can we save nature with crazy shapes?

Washington Post

Silverspot butterfly is now protected under the Endangered Species Act

Denver Post | CBS News | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [press release]

Hundreds of Colorado wetlands and streams are unshielded right now

Colorado Sun

Opinion: Why is Forest Service sacrificing Idaho’s rivers?


The push for a national monument in east Las Vegas


Quote of the day

We have always seen pretty significant emphasis on conservation across party lines, but this is the first year that we’ve got majorities of all three parties–including 89% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans indicating that they want Congress to focus more on prioritizing conservation on these lands.”

—David Metz, partner with FM3, a pollster for the Conservation in the West poll, KUNM

Picture This

"I'm wild about you" with bison in a heart valentine


Western voters LOVE #publiclands and want to see them protected!!

That’s according to new polling from Colorado College’s State of the Rockies project.


Featured photo: Ninety-two percent of Colorado voters support protecting the public lands surrounding the Dolores River. Source: BLM Colorado