Western Voters Don’t Want States To Take Over Public Lands

The armed terrorists that are entering their second week occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon might be in favor of states taking over ownership of public lands, but Westerners as a whole aren’t, according to a new poll.

The poll, released January 11, 2016 by Colorado College, surveyed voters in seven western states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming) on their views regarding public lands and energy. It found that most western voters — 58 percent — don’t want states to take over management of public lands. That’s one of the main desires of Ammon Bundy and the rest of the group that’s occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge — to turn federally protected lands over to private and state ownership, which the group thinks would help open up these lands to more drilling, mining, and grazing.

What residents in the West are concerned about, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, are things like drought — a strong majority of voters in all seven western states considered drought a “serious” problem, according to the poll. The poll found that western voters were also concerned about lack of funding to maintain public lands, as well as climate change and wildfires.

“Westerners want our public lands to stay public,” Salazar said. Public lands — including national parks, monuments, and wildlife refuges — are a huge reason why people visit the West, he said. Seventy-two percent of voters polled said they thought that public lands helped the western economy, and 80 percent said they would support future presidents creating new national monuments.

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