From a September 12 National Forest Foundation press release via Business Wire:
The National Forest Foundation (NFF) announced today 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 10 Americans said they would support a small increase in taxes in order 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, are noted below:
- 81 percent of Americans across the political spectrum believe funding of National Forests should not be cut, despite federal budget problems.
- 74 percent of Republicans surveyed
- 80 percent of Independents surveyed
- 89 percent of Democrats surveyed
- 72 percent 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 percent of seniors and 56 percent of conservatives said they would support additional funding even if it meant a small tax increase.
- 83 percent of voters agree that conserving America’s land, air and water is patriotic.
- Seven in 10 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 in order 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.