Policy Update

Monthly Messenger: 2018 Conservation in the West Poll



NCEL Point of Contact

Ruth Musgrave
Conservation Senior Advisor

Western Voters Increasingly Identify as Conservationists and Value Public Lands

For the past eight years, the Colorado College has released their Conservation in the West Poll covering Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. This is the first year that Idaho was added to the poll. The 2018 results found an increase in the number of people identifying as conservationists; an overwhelming majority of people who see the value of public lands; and broad support for renewable energy.

Among Western voters, 76% now view themselves as conservationists. This is a large increase from 63% in 2016. This finding is particularly interesting because “how people view themselves usually doesn’t change a whole lot over time,” according to Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies.

Other highlights include:

  • 81% view public lands as an economic advantage.
  • 90% believe that national monuments are important places to conserve for future generations.
  • 69% oppose scaling back national monuments
  • 64% want to keep plans to protect sage grouse habitat.
  • 65% of voters believe that solar and wind power will help their state’s economy over natural gas, nuclear, coal, and oil.
  • 50% of Western voters see water scarcity issues as extremely or very serious, and 70% or more prefer conservation of water to diversion of new sources.


The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in eight states for a 3,200 person total sample. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.65% nationwide with a confidence interval of 95% and ±4.9% statewide.