Proponents’ poll shows Hidden Gems support | SummitDaily.com
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Proponents’ poll shows Hidden Gems support

EDWARD STONER
vail daily

EAGLE COUNTY – A poll conducted by proponents of the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal shows that 58 percent of voters in Eagle and Summit counties support the plan.

Thirty percent of local voters oppose the plan, according to the poll.

“There is tremendous support from Coloradans in all walks of life to protect these lands and landscapes in the Hidden Gems proposal,” Pete Kolbenschlag, Hidden Gems campaign director, said in a conference call with reporters.

The Hidden Gems proposal that was recently submitted to Colorado’s Congressional Delegation would designate about 244,000 acres in Eagle and Summit counties as wilderness. The plan would have to be introduced as a bill by a member of the delegation and then get approval by both the House and Senate as well as the president.

The poll shows that some 66 percent of Eagle and Summit County voters would favor protecting additional public lands as wilderness in Colorado, while 28 percent would oppose.

According to the poll, support for Hidden Gems stretches across different ages, political affiliations and areas of the 2nd Congressional District, which spans from Adams County to Boulder County to Eagle County.

Among Democrats, 81 percent supported Hidden Gems, while Republicans were split in support and opposition. Sixty-three percent of unaffiliated voters supported the plan, the poll found.

The wilderness designation prohibits mining, commercial logging, oil and gas drilling, new roads, mountain biking, jeeps, snowmobiles and dirt bikes. It would still allow hiking, hunting, horseback riding and camping.

The plan has run into vocal opposition from snowmobilers and other users of motorized vehicles.

Jack Albright, vice president of the White River Forest Alliance, a coalition representing dirt bikers, snowmobile riders, four-wheelers, mountain bikers and other forest users, says he has concerns about the validity of the poll.

The questions didn’t say how big the proposal is, and only gave a small example of the lands that are included in the plan, Albright said. Many people aren’t well informed about the plan, he said.

“There’s an awful lot of the public that doesn’t know a lot about the proposal and doesn’t know about it because they haven’t had the opportunity to be involved in any kind of public forum-style meeting to date,” Albright said.

In the poll, support for Hidden Gems outweighed opposition among hunters, mountain bikers, fishermen and off-roaders. Snowmobilers were the only group in which more people – 48 percent – were opposed than were supportive – 40 percent.

The poll was conducted on behalf of the Wilderness Workshop by RBI Strategies and Research in Denver.

Edward Stoner can be

reached at (970) 748-2929

or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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