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  poll results

Montana Summary

From March 20 to 23, 2000, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates conducted a telephone survey among 550 likely voters in Montana for the Heritage Forests Campaign. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 4.2 percent. The margin of error for subgroups within the general sample will be higher.

According to a recent statewide survey of likely voters in Montana, there is strong support for President Clinton?s proposed roadless plan that would protect the remaining wild but unprotected areas in national forests. Furthermore, support is strong and consistent throughout the state and transcends partisan, gender, and age differences.

The survey provided a brief description of the national plan proposed by the Clinton administration1, and, in response, most voters favor the roadless plan, with more than half backing it (53 percent in favor), while fully one-third (33 percent) strongly support the plan. Two out of five voters (41 percent) indicate they are against the plan and six percent are not sure.

When told how the plan will impact Montana, namely that an additional 40 percent of national forest lands in the state would be protected from logging, new roads, mining and off-road vehicles but remain open to most forms of recreation, support was even stronger, with 59 percent in favor (35 percent strongly in favor), with fewer voters opposed (35 percent). Six percent of voters continue to remain undecided. Clearly, based on these findings, there is support generally for the national roadless plan, and that Montana voters are even more supportive of the plan in terms of how it will affect their state in particular.

The intensity of support for the roadless plan is largely driven by a significant minority of voters who feel there is not enough permanently protected land nationally (36 percent) and in Montana (32 percent), compared to only 17 percent and 18 percent who believe there is too much protected land in the U.S. and in the state, respectively. A plurality of voters feel there is about the right amount of permanently protected land in each place.

This strong support for the roadless plan is particularly striking due to the fact that the results occur within a context where Montana voters support, albeit by a narrow margin, industrial activities on national forest lands. Specifically, fifty-one percent of voters favor allowing logging, mining, and other industrial activities while 42 percent oppose such actions.

1 Question wording: As I just mentioned, National Forest lands in the United States total 192 million acres. 51% of this land has already been logged, mined, or has roads, and remain open to commercial development. 18% is permanently protected. The remaining 31% are wild but unprotected roadless areas. The Clinton administration has proposed protecting nearly all of these remaining wild but unprotected areas. This means that it could be used for most types of recreation including camping, hunting and fishing, but that logging, new roads, mining, oil drilling, and off-road vehicles would be prohibited. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?
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