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Survey Reveals Strong Support for U.S. National Forests

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The National Forest Foundation (NFF), Missoula, Mont., USA, this week announced results of a new nationwide survey of voters revealing strong personal connections many Americans have with the National Forests and the benefits these lands provide. These connections are so strong that four in five voters polled said despite federal budget problems, funding to safeguard National Forests should not be cut. Even more impressive, seven in ten Americans said they would support a small increase in taxes to provide additional funding to restore damaged forest land and conserve additional lands.

Key findings from the bipartisan poll, conducted in partnership with research firms Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, include:

  • 81% of Americans across the political spectrum believe funding of National Forests should not be cut, despite federal budget problems
    • 74% of Republicans surveyed
    • 80% of Independents surveyed
    • 89% of Democrats surveyed
  • 72% of voters surveyed would support additional funding to maintain and restore National Forest lands even if it meant a small tax increase
    • Such supporters include groups that are traditionally more tax sensitive: 63% of seniors and 56% of conservatives said they would support additional funding even if it meant a small tax increase
  • 83% of voters agree that conserving America's land, air, and water is patriotic
  • Seven in ten American voters from across the political spectrum agreed that one of the things the U.S. government does best is protect and preserve the country's natural heritage through National Forests.

"The NFF has long recognized Americans' personal connections to their National Forests through our work bringing people together to restore and enhance these public lands. This survey not only reveals these connections, but also shows there is strong support for funding of National Forest land and water," said Bill Possiel, president of the National Forest Foundation.

"More than 160 million people visited a National Forest last year, generating $13 billion for the U.S. economy and helping sustain 223,000 jobs in local communities. This survey illustrates that respondents believe our National Forests have an impact on their overall well-being, and they appreciate the environmental benefits these forests provide."

This expression of voter support for the National Forests comes at a time when funds are being diverted from forest restoration, wildfire prevention, and other categories in the U.S. Forest Service budget to bridge the gap in funding needed to fight wildfires. In fact, this year the Forest Service has already allocated $1.5 billion to fire-related activities, $600 million more than anticipated.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 80% of Americans engage in outdoor recreation (such as hiking, camping, boating, and skiing); these outdoor recreationalists are more likely to have visited a National Forest
  • National Forest visits contribute $13 billion to the U.S. economy and help sustain 223,000 jobs in communities around National Forests
  • Once a person visits a National Forest, they are highly likely to return, indicating a high level of satisfaction with their National Forest experience
    • 87% of people who have gone to a National Forest three or more times in the past year plan to return to a National Forest again this year
  • 89% of Americans consider the role that National Forests play in supplying clean drinking water to one-third of the U.S. population in 33 states to be an extremely or very important benefit
  • 87% value the importance of National Forests to provide clean water for drinking and irrigation
  • 85% responded that removing pollution from the air is an extremely or very important benefit
  • 82% believe that providing children with the opportunity to explore nature is extremely or very important
  • 79% understand that National Forests reduce global-warming pollution.

The NFF national poll surveyed 800 registered voters nationally in a statistically valid telephone survey. Respondents were contacted on both landline and cell phones. The survey was conducted from July 20-24, 2013, and yields a margin of error of 3.46% overall.

More information about the National Forest Foundation, including how to download an infographic about the survey, is available online.


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