BOISE, Idaho - Protecting the environment is a priority for Idahoans, according to a new survey.
The ninth annual Conservation in the West Poll from Colorado College surveyed 400 registered voters from both parties in eight western states, including Idaho, for the first time.
In the Gem State, 64 percent of respondents say Congress should emphasize protecting sources of clean air, water and wildlife habitat, compared with 23 percent who want to pursue more domestic energy sources.
Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, notes 92 percent of Idahoans believe the outdoor recreation economy is important for the future of the state.
"Consistently, we're finding that when it comes to issues of conservation and natural resources and wildlife, we're actually really united," he states. "It's probably one of the few things remaining in our country that's bipartisan."
Brooks says many people live in Idaho because of their access to the outdoors. Some 74 percent of residents consider themselves outdoor enthusiasts.
Pollster Dave Metz says support for protecting the environment among westerners goes further than simply emphasizing conservation. Many say they are willing to pay more to improve management of local public lands.
"Across the board in every single state, we had not just majorities, but roughly 3-in-5 or more telling us that they would be willing to tax themselves more to raise dollars to address these concerns at a local level," he points out.
Part of protecting the environment includes addressing wildfires. According to the survey, 69 percent of Idahoans say fires are a bigger problem for the West than they were 10 years ago.