Occasionally, though, polls can make even a cynic like me take heart. Two recent polls — conducted by independent research companies on behalf of The Nature Conservancy and partner organizations — surveyed voters in Texas and Florida on conservation matters. For those of us who work in conservation, the results were inspiring.
The Texas poll, which randomly surveyed more than 800 registered voters of both political parties in rural, small town and metropolitan areas, returned two incredible results:
First, 99 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “we each have a personal responsibility to protect [Texas’] land, water and wildlife.” In addition, 80 percent of respondents felt “we can have a clean environment and a strong economy at the same time without having to choose one over the other.”
In Florida, the Conservancy and partners commissioned a poll to gauge voters on Florida Forever, the publicly funded conservation initiative launched in 1999. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they strongly support maintaining state funding for the program that, to date, has preserved more than 600,000 acres of land and water in Florida.
Those numbers are staggering. As the country finds itself in the doldrums of a protracted recession, voters in Texas and Florida adamantly refuse to neglect the protection of nature.
These polls underscore what most have us have long known — conservation is not a political issue, it’s a people issue. And the people — or a representative sample of them — have spoken.
The question now is whether or not our elected officials — our true representatives — are listening.
(Image: Long-billed curlew in Texas. Credit: Charlie Ott.)