Coloradans love their public lands, poll says, but some think national monuments harm the local economy |

Coloradans love their public lands, poll says, but some think national monuments harm the local economy

Ally Bevins, of Boulder, took advantage of the park closures to ski up the main road leading to Rocky Mountain National Park which was closed on Jan. 22, 2018 in Estes Park.
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

For eight straight years, the “Conservation in the West” poll of residents in eight Western states has shown growing support for public lands and protecting those wild places — so much so, that across those states brimming with public land, three-quarters of them described themselves as conservationists this year, up from a little more than 60 percent in 2016.

That’s a significant swing because people tend not to change how they think of themselves, said Public Opinion Strategies pollster Lori Weigel, who this month helped interview 3,200 residents in the states for the annual survey by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project.

“I think we are seeing a boost in intensity from what we have seen in the past,” Weigel said.

That vigor seems to be stemming from President Donald Trump. The poll shows disapproval for Trump’s call to carve almost 2 million acres from national monuments in Utah, with 70 percent of Colorado residents saying the shrinking of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments was a bad call. Coloradans have a strong affinity for national monuments, with 86 percent of those polled saying the protected federal lands help nearby economies.

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