Montanans like their Wilderness Study Areas

But their elected representatives don’t.

The results of a new poll show that a majority — 57 percent — of Montanans wanted WSAs to continue to be protected, and another 24 percent said they wanted a more case-by-case review of how the areas should be used.

Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte, both Republicans, have introduced bills in Congress to open up areas now protected as WSAs.

The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative commissioned the poll of 500 Montana voters and hired both Republican and Democratic firms to conduct the survey. It found that only 11 percent of those polled favored Gianforte’s proposal to eliminate protections for 29 WSAs.

“They were opting for something other than what’s proposed in Congress,” said pollster Lori Weigel, who led the Republican half of the bipartisan polling team.

Daines and Gianforte discounted the poll, noting they had the support of local county commissions for their legislation.

Obviously the county commissions did not get this support from their constituents, and they have been accused of selective listening.

Daines’ staff challenged the validity of the poll.

David Parker, a Montana State University political science professor, said after reviewing the survey questions, “I object to the notion it’s a push poll. It’s pretty innocuous the way it’s worded.”

Parker said the UM poll appeared consistent with other regional surveys showing strong bipartisan support for public land protection.

I guess this is what happens when a popular issue is not a high priority for voters.  You look the other way on the environment and vote for someone who’ll give you your tax cut.

Here’s a summary of some of the other findings of the survey – including:

When asked by the pollsters if they would support or oppose dedicating additional, existing public lands as wilderness areas in Montana, 57 percent expressed support and 35 percent said they would be opposed.

2 thoughts on “Montanans like their Wilderness Study Areas”

  1. It seems that County Commissioners/Supervisors are usually against anything that supports recreation uses and wilderness. All the other Multiple Uses are okay since they can see direct revenue. Greed!

    • Recreation uses and wilderness are not the same thing, in fact they may be opposed..e.g. mountain bikes. Why is getting more recreationists in the county to buy things not greed, but other uses are greed? Is supporting the local economy greedy for some businesses and not for others?


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