Washingtonians overwhelmingly support the Clinton administration proposals to protect roadless areas within National Forests. Over 70% of the state's residents support the President on this issue, with regard to both National Forest lands generally and specifically with the state of Washington. The intensity of support and the lack of intensity of the opposition are noteworthy.
Some specific findings from the Washington survey concerning National Forests include the following:
Question 12: Half of the National Forest lands in the U.S. have already been logged, mined, have 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 to protect nearly all of these remaining wild but unprotected areas. This means that it could be used for most types of recreation, including hunting, camping and fishing, but that logging, new roads, mining, oil drilling, and off-road vehicles would be prohibited. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?
72% support the Clinton administration proposal (51% strongly support it). Given that opposition rises only to 20%, it has in excess of a three-to-one support in the state.
Question 13: What if you learned that included in this proposal would be protections for up to 40% of national forest lands in Washington, or about 3.7 million acres, which would still stay open for hunting, camping and fishing. Then would you favor or oppose this proposal?
The responses for the proposal specific to Washington State are, in general, the same. Overall, 73% support the proposal, with 49% strongly supporting it. The opposition to the proposal remains weak, with 20% in opposition (only 11% strongly).
Discussion/Analysis of Questions 12 & 13:
1. As to the Clinton proposal to protect remaining roadless forests, there is little difference among men and women. There are some differences within the age groups. 59% of the 35-44 years old and 57% of the 45-54 years olds, strongly support the proposal, while only 48% of those age 55 and over strongly support it. There is no significant difference between the support for the national designation of protected lands or those lands specifically in Washington.
2. Overall, there is strong support regardless of party affiliation. 72% of self-identified Democrats and 75% of self-identified Republicans and self-identified Independents support the proposal for designation of national forest lands. 77% of self-identified Democrats, 76% of self-identified Republicans and 71% of self-identified Independents support the proposal regarding lands in Washington. Self-identified Republicans are among the strongest supporters, though. 58% of them strongly support the proposal for designation of national forest land and 53% of them strongly support the proposal for designation of lands in Washington.
However, self-identified Republicans are also the group that shows the most opposition. Of the 11% overall, that strongly oppose either proposal, 49% are Republicans opposed to national designation and 46% are Republicans opposed to designation of lands in Washington.
Question 10: National Forest lands in the United States total 192 million acres. Currently 18% of these lands are permanently protected from logging and other development. Given this, do you think the U.S. has too much, not enough, or about the right amount of permanently protected land in our national forests?
Question 11: Currently, in the state of Washington, 28% of the land in National Forests are permanently protected from logging and other development. Given this, do you think Washington has too much, not enough, or about the right amount of permanently protected land in our national forests?
Over half (54%) of all Washingtonians believe that not enough national forest land is permanently protected and only 9% believe too much is being protected. 30% believe the amount is about right. Yet, only 44% believe that protecting 28% of Washington forest lands is not enough, while 36% believe this is the right amount. There does seem to be a distinction made between national forest lands and forest land in Washington, but it should also be noted that again a small number (only 14%) believe too much land is being protected in Washington.
Discussion/Analysis of Question 10 & 11
1. On the issue of whether 18% nationally of current forest land protected as wilderness is too low an amount, age was a determinant. 47% of those 55 and older felt that 18% was not enough, with the figures climbing through each successively lower age group to a high of 64% of those 18-34 believing that the 18% figure is too low.
2. This trend is not the same regarding the protection of Washington's forest lands. 51% of those 35-44 years old believe that having only 28% of Washington's forest lands protected as wilderness is not enough. 46% of those 18-34, 44% of those 45 to 54 and 40% of those 55 and above believe that 28% is 'not enough.'
3. There is some distinction within party affiliation, regarding designation of national lands. 64% of the self-identified Democrats believe that not enough national forest land is protected, while 57% of the Republicans and 51% of the Independents believe this is not enough.
Question 8: To the best of your knowledge, are industrial activities like logging and mining allowed in National Forests?
66% overall are aware that these activities are 'definitely' or 'probably' allowed. 23% feel that the activities are 'definitely' or 'probably' not allowed. An additional 11% don't know whether they are or not. Consequently, just under a quarter of Washingtonians have an incorrect assumption or lack of knowledge about the protected nature of forest lands.
Question 9: In fact, these activities ARE allowed in National Forest Lands. Given this, do you support or oppose logging, mining, and other industrial activities on National Forest Lands?
Opposition to industrial activities on forest lands rises to 49% overall (35% strongly, 14% somewhat), with 43% supporting industrial uses (20% strongly, 23% somewhat) and 9% expressing no opinion. Given the small level of intense support for industrial exploitation of forests, there is significant room for growth in the opposition to these activities.
Overall, the survey indicates strong support within the State of Washington for the Clinton Administration's proposal to protect National Forest Lands.