New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Designating California Desert National Monuments

Vet Voice Foundation

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Designating
California Desert National Monuments

San Bernardino, CA – Vet Voice Foundation today released a poll commissioned to understand Californians’ perspectives on proposed desert national monuments, participation in outdoor recreation activities, and attitudes towards mining on public lands in the California desert.

Conducted by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, the survey reveals overwhelming support among California voters statewide and in the desert region for President Obama to designate the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments.

“This poll shows clear support among Californians statewide and in the desert region for the proposed desert national monuments,” said Lori Weigel, Partner, Public Opinion Strategies. “Voters want the President to protect these lands as important habitat for wildlife and so that families and children have places to get outdoors and explore nature. This support is broad-based and cuts across many demographics.” 

Among the poll’s key findings are the following:

In August, Senator Feinstein called on President Obama to designate three new national monuments in the California desert, building on years of effort to pass legislation that would protect these places. National monument status means that these public lands would be permanently protected and accessible for the public to enjoy for outdoor recreation activities.

“Veterans want to see these desert lands permanently protected as national monuments,” said Steve Dunwoody, California Program Director, Vet Voice Foundation. “With this poll, we see that an overwhelming majority of Californians join us in that sentiment. We encourage President Obama to listen to this support and designate the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments.”

Overwhelming Support for California Desert National Monuments

The survey results show that voters both statewide and in the desert region overwhelmingly (75 percent statewide and 70 percent in the desert region) support the President designating the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains National Monuments, thereby protecting these areas from development, mining and other resources extraction activities.

Support is significant among all demographic, geographic and partisan sub-groups in the state. In fact, a majority of all key subgroups statewide express support, including 72 percent of Latinos and 73 percent of military and veteran households.

Notably, support is strongest among the one-in-five residents (21 percent statewide) who have heard something about the proposed national monument designations, with fully 81 percent expressing support for the idea. Of these voters, a significant 59 percent are strongly in support.      

Strong Affinity for the Outdoors and Public Lands

Voters offered a wide range of rationales when queried about the reasons for their strong support for the proposed desert national monuments. Most voters, however, focused on outdoor recreation and a sense that the land, wildlife and natural resources need to be protected for future generations.

These sentiments may in part be due to Californians’ high levels of participation in outdoor recreation activities and visitation of national public lands. More than three-quarters statewide (78 percent) and in the desert region (77 percent) say they have visited public lands in the last year. Notably, Republican voters are more likely to say they have visited national public lands than their Independent or Democratic counterparts.

In addition, the overwhelming majority of voters in the state report regularly participating in at least one outdoor recreation activity (74 percent statewide and 70 percent in the desert region). Hiking and camping are the leading activities, both statewide and in the desert region.

Voters also see a wide-range of benefits to increasing protections for desert public lands, particularly as wildlife habitat, and for family recreation and children to explore nature. 80% of voters consider opportunities for children to get outside in nature and protecting animal habitat as extremely and very important.  

Voters Reject Opposition Arguments and Oppose Mining on Desert Public Lands

The poll also reveals that voters are more likely to side with supporters of national monument designation for the desert areas than they are with critics of such a plan. Hearing rationales both for and against the monument proposal does little to affect how voters perceive this idea; after listening to this information 78 percent of statewide voters and 75 percent of desert voters support the national monument designations.

Finally, it is worth noting that voters solidly reject a proposal to allow mining on these public lands. Two-thirds say they oppose a proposal to “allow new mining operations on 100,000 acres of existing public lands in the area” (67 percent statewide and 66 percent in the desert region). Fewer than one-in-four support this proposal.  

More information about the poll may be found at http://www.vetvoicefoundation.org/. The survey was conducted November 1-4, 2015 with 600 registered California voters and 300 desert region voters in Riverside, San Bernardino and Inyo Counties. The margin of error for the poll is +/-4.0% for the statewide sample and +/-5.7% for the desert sample.   

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