Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Poll: Public land ‘essential’ to Idaho

Voters say national forests have impact on economy, way of life

Express Staff Writer

Ninety-seven percent of a group of Idaho voters told polling group Moore Information last month that public lands in forests, wildlife areas and parks are “an essential part of Idaho’s quality of life,” while 92 percent said public lands are essential to Idaho’s economy.

The Idaho Outdoor Business Council, a statewide organization of businesses whose focus is on recreation, such as outfitters, sporting goods retail outlets and manufacturers, commissioned the poll.

The poll is a representative of 400 voters in Idaho, with a relatively equal split among Republicans, Democrats and independent voters.

Of those voters, 95 percent agreed that it was possible to have a balance between a healthy economy and protection of the natural environment—while 76 percent said that despite federal budget problems, conservation funding should not be cut. Seventy-three percent of Idaho voters said that they thought the federal government did a good job of protecting and preserving national forests, national parks and other public lands. 

Another question asked Idahoans whether they thought public land—land preserved in national forests, parks, monuments or wildlife refuges—has an impact on jobs. While 10 percent said they believed that public land actually cost Idahoans jobs, 27 percent said the presence of public land had little impact on jobs. 

Fifty-two percent said they believed the presence of public land actually created jobs for Idahoans.

The results also showed support for funding of conservation programs. Only 1 in 3 Idahoans had heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses a portion of offshore drilling fees paid by oil and gas companies to pay for conservation—such as the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Once the program was explained, 79 percent of voters said it should be fully funded. 

Idaho Outdoor Business Council member Chris Haunold, owner of Idaho Mountain Touring in Boise, said he was “encouraged” to see that Idaho voters felt public land conservation was important for quality of life and the economy since his business relies on customers’ having access to healthy land and water.

Kate Wutz:


Economic Injury Disaster Loans available

The state of Idaho is seeking assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration for businesses affected by this summer’s wildfires. Businesses in Custer County, along with six other counties, can report revenue loss, job loss and property damage to the Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security and Custer County Office of Emergency Management. The damage or loss must have happened between July 20 and the anticipated end of the fire season, Dec. 1. These reports are crucial to determining who qualifies for assistance and the type that will be available. Report sheets are available at under the “Communities” tab. Businesses can contact Jerry Miller of the Idaho Department of Commerce at 208-334-2470 for more information.



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