Eleven New State Polls Show Widespread Support for "Roadless" Initi

wafcdc at americanlands.org wafcdc at americanlands.org
Thu Mar 30 08:52:27 EST 2000


From: "wafcdc at americanlands.org" <wafcdc at americanlands.org>
Subject: Eleven New State Polls Show Widespread Support for "Roadless"  Initiative 

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2000

Voters Say "Yes" to National Forest Protection

They've remained untouched by chainsaw or ax for generations, but the
permanent fate of America's last wild forests may be decided by the U.S.
Forest Service within the next 90 days.

Eleven New State Polls Show Widespread Support for "Roadless" Initiative

WASHINGTON - Apologists for the timber industry argue that a Forest Service
initiative to stop new road construction and logging in large, currently
roadless areas of wild forest is part of a "plot" to keep the public out of
public lands.  But 11 state polls conducted in California, New Mexico,
Colorado, Tennessee, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana,
Washington and Oregon suggest the American people aren't buying that message. 

In Wisconsin, for example, when voters were told exactly how much National
Forest land was at stake in the roadless initiative, and that such land
would still be open for hunting, camping and fishing, support for the Forest
Service roadless initiative soared to 88 percent. 

"What the polls make clear is that the roadless initiative is more popular
than most politicians," said Ken Rait, director of the Heritage Forests
Campaign, a broad coalition of local, state and national environmental
groups pushing the forest protection initiative.  "We've heard a lot of
noise from a handful of politicians indebted to timber and mining interests,
but the real story is that the opposition to this initiative is like a
Hollywood western town:  one board thick with nothing but the desert behind it."

Rait and other environmental experts note that only 5 percent of U.S. timber
production is cut on National Forest land and that less than 5 percent of
the 40 to 60 million acres of currently roadless forest is suitable for
logging.  The Forest Service itself estimates that recreation on National
Forest land generates 30 times more economic growth than timber sales. 

Public opinion polls suggest roadless area protection is tremendously
popular across the political and geographic spectrum.  A recent poll by
respected Republican pollster Linda DiVall found 62 percent of Republicans -
and two-thirds of those living in western states - support an administration
proposal to protect roadless areas in our National Forests.  To date over a
half a million citizens have made public comments to the Forest Service
about the proposal - most of them supportive. 

A new round of public meetings and comments is expected to begin in May
following the release of the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).
Whatever shape the final plan takes, Rait and others suggest it must meet
five key criteria to provide real and lasting protection for our nation's
remnant wildernesses: 1) safeguard all National Forests, without loopholes,
exemptions or waivers, including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska; 2)
permanently and immediately halt road building, logging, mining, off-road
vehicle use and other harmful activities in all roadless forests; 3) protect
all roadless areas of at least 1,000 acres in all National Forests; 4)
institute a moratorium on all development in and damaging use of wild
forests until they are permanently protected; and 5) be based on sound
science rather than short-term political considerations.

"The future of our best wild forests will be determined in the next 90
days," said Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society, an
environmental group working on the forest initiative.  "The current debate
is about whether we are going to continue to allow special interests to
profit from the destruction of our last remaining wild forest lands -- lands
vital to the recreational interests of hunters, anglers, campers and
birdwatchers."

Jim Scarantino, executive director of Republicans for Environmental
Protection (www.repamerica.org), said he was not surprised to find
overwhelming support for the Forest Service's roadless initiative.
"Preserving the last of the best is not a Republican vs. Democrats issue,
it's not an East vs. West issue, it's not a soccer-mom vs. hunter issue;
it's a question of what we want to leave for our children and grandchildren
to come.  With so much already gone, the conservative approach is to
conserve what little remains." 

###

Complete Poll Results with questions, methodology and results are available
online at:  http://www.ourforests.org/info/poll2000.

Pie chart graphics to illustrate your polling story are available at
http://www.ourforests.org/info/poll2000.   The pie charts feature a line-art
illustration of a cut log as the "pie."

Real People, Real Experts:  Whether you are looking for an expert on forest
fire prevention, data on the economics of recreation in our National
Forests, or an analysis of big timber's political contributions, we can help
you pull your story together.  Call Patrick Burns at the Heritage Forests
Campaign  (202-861-2242, ext. 3004).











Summary of State Poll Results On the National Forest "Roadless" Forest
Initiative

QUESTION: Half of the National Forest lands in the United States have
already been logged, mined, have roads and remain open to commercial
development.  An additional 18 percent are permanently protected, and the
remaining 31 percent are unprotected, wild, roadless areas.  The Clinton
administration has proposed to protect nearly all of these remaining
unprotected wild areas.  This means that they could be used for most types
of recreation, including hunting, camping and fishing, but that logging, new
roads, mining, oil drilling and off-road vehicles would be prohibited.  Do
you support or oppose this proposal?  (Is that strongly support/oppose or
somewhat support/oppose?)

        STATE   POLLSTER        SUPPORT OPPOSE  
        CA      Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin     	72%     22%     
        CO      Ridder / Braden 			75%     20%     
        ID      Ridder / Braden 			57%     38%     
        MI      Mellman Group   			69%     23%     
        MN      The Feldman Group       		76%     21%     
        MT      Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin     	53%     41%     
        NM      Polling and Research    		71%     20%     
        OR      Ridder / Braden 			67%     27%     
        TN      Mason-Dixon Research    		72%     12%     
        WA      Ridder / Braden 			72%     20%     
        WI      Chamberlain Research Consultants       	83%     11.8%   

Poll sample size varied from 500-800 per state, with confidence intervals
ranging of 4 percent to 4.38 percent.  This means there is a 95 percent
probability that the "true figure" would fall within that range if the
entire population were sampled.  New Mexico's question was abbreviated.
There were some minor phrasing differences between polling firms.

QUESTION: What if you learned that included in this proposal would be
protection for up to (STATE DATA)% of National Forest lands in (INSERT STATE
NAME ) - or about (INSERT STATE DATA) thousand acres - which would still
stay open for hunting, camping and fishing?  Then would you support or
oppose the proposal? (Is that strongly support/oppose or somewhat
support/oppose?)

        STATE   POLLSTER        SUPPORT OPPOSE  
        CA      Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin     	76%     18%     
        CO      Ridder / Braden 			78%     16%     
        ID      Ridder / Braden 			64%     30%     
        MI      Mellman Group   			74%     18%     
        MN      The Feldman Group       		83%     14%     
        MT      Fairbanks, Masslin & Maulin     	59%     35%     
        NM      Polling and Research    		72%     20%     
        OR      Ridder / Braden 			69%     23%     
        TN      Mason-Dixon Research    		76%     12%     
        WA      Ridder / Braden			72%     20%     
        WI      Chamberlain Research Consultants         88.3%   9%      

Poll sample size varied from 500-800 per state, with confidence intervals
ranging of 4 percent to 4.38 percent.  This means there is a 95 percent
probability that the "true figure" would fall within that range if the
entire population were sampled.  New Mexico's question was abbreviated.
There were some minor phrasing differences between polling firms. 


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