December 11, 2013

New Poll in California's 8th Congressional District Shows Strong Support for Protecting Public Lands & Desert

Represented by Congressman Paul Cook, California’s 8th Congressional District includes Death Valley National Park, the Mojave National Preserve, and parts of Joshua Tree National Park 

Victorville, CA – Vet Voice Foundation today released a poll conducted in California’s 8th Congressional District, represented by Congressman Paul Cook.  The poll surfaced strong and deeply-held personal support among district voters for protecting public lands and the California desert.   

“Voters in the California’s 8th Congressional District have a strong connection to public lands like Joshua Tree and Death Valley,” said Mark Starr, Program Director, Vet Voice Foundation.  “This poll shows that voters want to pass on a legacy of protecting local public lands in the California desert to their children and grandchildren.  Public lands are also an important economic driver, bringing in visitors to the area.”

A more detailed rundown of the poll, which was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, can be viewed here http://www.vetvoicefoundation.org/tools/uploads/files/0006.pdf (Executive Summary document) and http://www.vetvoicefoundation.org/tools/uploads/files/0007.pdf (findings presentation).

“This poll clearly demonstrates that voters in California’s 8th Congressional District support protecting public lands in their community,” said Lori Weigel, Partner with Public Opinion Strategies.  “They are invested in conserving these places for future generations, and want to see a balanced approach to how the lands are used, with access protected for the public.”

Some of the key findings of the poll are:

·       People are personally connected to local public lands, and 75% of local voters have visited public lands in the last year.  92% of voters agree with the need to pass on a legacy of conservation to their children and grandchildren.

·       Local voters see public lands as a shared resource.  They reject the idea of specific projects such as open pit mining on public lands near Bodie State Historic Park and just north of Mono Lake (74% oppose), as well as plans to extract and export water from underground aquifers near Mojave National Preserve (69% oppose).  75% of local voters agree that private companies should not develop public lands if doing so would limit public access to these places.

·       Consistently across all political views, local voters support increased protections to public lands, along with ensuring access for recreation and tourism activities.  Examples of this include supporting the creation of a National Recreation Area that would consist of most of the San Gabriel Mountains (77% support), and adding publically owned lands to existing national parks like Joshua Tree and enhancing some already existing public lands by naming them as “national monuments” or “wilderness areas” (71% support).

·       Voters also understand that public lands contribute to the local economy, with 76% agreeing that “the closing of national parks and public lands for hunting and other recreation during the recent government shutdown hurt many small businesses and the economy of the desert.”

“Protecting the outdoors and our public lands is deeply important to me and, as this poll shows, many local residents,” said David McCollum, U.S. Army and Marine Corps veteran and resident of Apple Valley in California’s 8th Congressional District.  “As a veteran, I believe I can continue to serve my country by supporting the protection of the great outdoors and the desert.  I urge our local leaders and elected officials to protect our public lands.”

California’s 8th Congressional District is comprised of the desert and mountain areas of San Bernardino County as well as the Yucaipa area, Inyo County, and Mono County.  The congressional district includes Death Valley National Park, the Mojave National Preserve, and parts of the San Bernardino, Inyo, and Toiyabe national forests and Joshua Tree National Park. 

For this poll, Public Opinion Strategies conducted a telephone survey of N=400 voters throughout California’s 8th Congressional District. The survey was conducted October 24-28, 2013, and has an overall margin of error of +4.9%. 

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About Vet Voice Foundation

Vet Voice Foundation's mission is to help veterans continue to serve their country by speaking out on vital, national issues.  Among these issues is ensuring that war is a last resort - never a first option.  Vet Voice Foundation has also pioneered the movement towards clean, renewable energy as a national security issue, and continues to make the case that investment in renewable energy means less money flowing into the hands of those who would do us harm.  Learn more at http://www.vetvoicefoundation.org.

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