A recent poll of likely voters in four northeast Washington State counties shows broad, robust support for a proposal to expand designated wilderness, logging and recreation areas in the Colville National Forest once respondents hear a description of the plan.
While voters were initially unfamiliar with the proposal to increase designated wilderness in some areas of the Colville National Forest while expanding recreational and forestry activities in other areas, a 57 percent majority favored the plan after it was described. Just 24 percent opposed it. Support extends across traditional demographic and geographic divisions, with a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as well as residents in rural counties polled in northeast Washington, supporting the proposal.
“These results confirm that the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition is taking the right approach,” said Russ Vaagen of Vaagen Brothers Lumber, who serves as vice president of the Coalition. “People want a balanced approach and wise use of our forest that creates jobs, provides access and takes care of wildlife and our special places.”
The Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, comprised of five timber companies, two Washington State conservation groups, recreation interests and businesses, has worked together for eight years to end gridlock and find common ground on management and use of the Colville National Forest.
During interviews with likely voters, pollsters explained that the Coalition's proposal “identifies some areas for forest restoration, some areas for recreation, and protects some roadless lands as wilderness” and that “overall, this proposal would provide for increased logging, expanded recreation and more protected areas.”
“After hearing a description of the Coalition's proposal, the majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents had a positive reaction,” said Republican pollster Bob Moore of Moore Information.“ Almost six in ten Republicans, Democrats and Independents supported the proposal.”
“Overwhelming majorities of hunters, anglers and off-road vehicle users favored the proposal,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who joined Moore in conducting the survey. “A majority of respondents overall supported protecting some of the Forest's very best areas as wilderness.”
The poll of 552 likely voters in Spokane, Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties, Washington, was conducted February 25-27, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent. It was commissioned by the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition and the Pew Environment Group.
The Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition is a diverse group of timber companies, conservation and recreation groups, and business working to demonstrate the full potential of restoration forestry to enhance forest health, public safety and community economic vitality. www.newforestrycoalition.org
The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands and promote clean energy. www.PewEnvironment.org