Citizens of SW Washington support conservation, even in hard times

September 14, 2010

VANCOUVER— Recent polling conducted in Southwest Washington indicates there is deep concern for the natural environment and strong support for policies and public officials who support conservation measures.

“Economic concerns are top of mind, but the state of the environment is also a clear motivator in this region,” said Melissa Chernaik, Senior Analyst at Grove Insight, the research firm that conducted the poll. “The economy versus the environment is a false choice for these voters. They agree that we can have both — a strong economy and protection for our land, air and water.”

Even compared to other issues, such as the economy, health care, and education, 73 percent of poll respondents reported conservation is an important factor when they consider whether to support a public official. This finding crosses every major demographic group, including gender and political party. In addition, 76 percent of respondents agree (66 percent strongly) that we can protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs. Those who believe strongly cross political party lines, age, educational attainment levels, recreational types (hunters, fishermen, hikers, off road vehicle riders), and geographic regions in Southwest Washington. In addition, 74 percent of poll respondents self-identify as conservationists.

“Projects that restore and enhance wetlands for waterfowl and improve the habitat for other species like salmon always lead to more local and regional jobs,” said Tom Dwyer with the Ducks Unlimited Vancouver Field Office.  “Engineering and construction expertise is always needed to do the work, and finding this talent locally is always the most cost-effective way to do business.”

The overall support translates into strong support for specific issues relating to wilderness protection and clean energy development. Seventy-seven percent support protecting wilderness areas, while 66 percent favor making Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument a National Park.

“Protection of the wilderness areas and rivers, lakes and streams should be a high priority for policymakers in Southwest Washington, as it is clearly a high priority for the voters in the region,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

On clean energy development, more than 68 percent of respondents favored developing and implementing a clean energy plan that requires power companies to generate one-quarter of their electricity from clean, renewable sources, such as wind, geothermal and solar, by the year 2025 – even if that increases energy costs for consumers.  More than 63 percent of those polled are ready to set limits on carbon emissions and make companies pay for their emissions – again, even if it means higher energy prices.

“This poll shows that citizens get it when it comes to growing the clean tech job sector in Southwest Washington. Our leaders need to make this a top priority. Growth in the clean tech sector will be a cornerstone for rebuilding our economy,” said Barbara Hins-Turner, Director of the Washington State Center of Excellence for Energy Technology in Centralia, Washington. The Center was awarded a $4.9 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop the Pacific Northwest Center of Excellence for Clean Energy. Satellite training sites will be located in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah to create a clean energy workforce equipped to implement Smart Grid technologies across the region.

Working in collaboration, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and Climate Solutions commissioned Grove Insight, Ltd. to conduct 400 telephone interviews among registered voters in Southwest Washington between August 3 and 6, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

To view a memo on the results of the poll, please visit

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in 1989 by Govs. Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition convinced the Legislature to create the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Fund in 1990 to provide a source of grant funding for projects across the state. Today, the Coalition includes more than 270 businesses and environmental, recreational, and community groups in Washington. The Fund has provided more than $618 million to more than 1,000 projects across the state. For more information, visit .

Since 1998, Climate Solutions has pioneered the vision and cultivated extraordinary political leadership in the Northwest for the proposition that clean energy, environmental health, and economic prosperity can go hand-in-hand. We’ve built coalitions across cities and farms, business and labor, environmentalists and social justice advocates, for innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change. Together, we work toward a healthy, clean-energy future: economic vitality and new jobs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased reliance on fossil fuels, improved air quality, better transportation choices, increased energy efficiency and a strong public commitment to a healthy environment. For more information, visit