UW Study: Western Voters Care More About Conservation and Environment | Big Horn Basin Media

UW Study: Western Voters Care More About Conservation and Environment

Written by on July 15, 2020

Who cares about conversation and environmentalism? We do, apparently.

In a joint study led by researchers at the University of Wyoming, Duke University and the University of Rhode Island, 1,800 voters were polled on a myriad of issues, but a special group from 8 western states including Wyoming were focus grouped on issues involving the environment and conservation. The results were telling. Polling data show urban and rural voters generally agreed about the importance of protecting the environment, with 73 percent of rural Western voters and 75 percent of urban or suburban voters saying environmental and conservation issues were very or pretty important to them personally. This finding holds true even when protections may negatively impact economic growth. Drew Bennett, the MacMillan Professor of Practice in the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, says quote “Rural Westerners have a strong attachment to where they live and are motivated to conserve their local environments for future generations. A key finding from this research is that rural stakeholders want to ensure they have a voice in helping to shape environmental policies that impact their communities.”

One point of contention was how those policies are implemented and enforced, which fell along more polarized lines. When it comes to government regulations to protect the environment, only 25 percent of rural Western voters said more governmental oversight is needed versus 43 percent of urban voters. But that’s where the western focus groups surprise once again, as rural Western voters are more likely to support U.S. action on climate change than rural voters nationally.

You can take a closer look at the full study “Attitudes of Rural Westerners on the Environment and Conservation on the Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions website.

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