Written by Elaine Zabriskie
This year’s State of the Rockies Survey illustrated once again that voters across the American West are not only concerned about conservation, we are overwhelmingly in support of key policies that will keep our water protected, our air clean, and our lands open to all. Idaho came in with strong numbers in the report, demonstrating our community’s longstanding commitment to a clean and prosperous Idaho for all.
Read on to learn more about the ways Idahoans are ready to advance the conservation conversation!
#1: Idahoans are strong advocates for conservation.
Conservation Voters for Idaho exists for a reason. We understand that our fellow Idahoans care deeply about our state, and we know how important those values are when we head to the polls. With 64% of Idahoans self-identifying as conservationists and 78% supporting the creation of new, nationally protected areas, CVI is here to translate Idaho voters’ conservation values into real data, real action, and real accountability.
#2: Idahoans want better water conservation.
Idaho has over 100,000 miles of rivers, and we don’t take all that beauty for granted. 81% of us believe the current water situation is a “serious crisis” and 82% are worried about our rivers’ low water levels. We are aligned with the 97% of Western voters who agree we desperately need to protect our drinking water sources.CVI has long supported efforts to protect our rivers at both small and large scales, like this vote in 2015 to protect the Boise River from development.
#3: Public lands are a part of Idahoans’ identity.
Idahoans almost unanimously support more opportunities for outdoor recreation – a full 90% of us. Additionally, in a state where 34% of people self-identify as hunters and 47% consider themselves anglers, CVI knows that keeping access to our public lands open is a key concern, not just for our personal enjoyment but for our state’s economy and core identity as outdoorsmen and women.
#4: On conservation issues, Idahoans care about progress over party.
75% of Idaho voters – well beyond a citizen supermajority! – support 30×30 goals. This initiative to protect 30% of our natural lands by 2030 is key to supporting wildlife habitat and protecting native species for generations to come. If you think this number would be divided along party lines, think again; 68% of conservative GOP voters support the exact same goal. Our work is firmly bipartisan because we understand that public lands have no party.
#5: Wildlife conservation is a central concern to us.
How many of your memories center on the moose that walked through your town one winter, the fish you caught with a good friend beside you, or the elk hunting that kept your family nourished throughout the year? Idahoans not only rely on our wildlife as a resource, we appreciate the natural beauty of our state’s creatures. In fact, 91% of us agree that we need to help threatened wildlife, and 94% support conserving habitat and migration paths. CVI monitors the latest best practices to support wildlife, and we share those recommendations with you directly in addition to our advocacy work.
#6: Idahoans support clean energy for clean environments.
When it comes to polluting or damaging our natural lands, Idahoans take the issue seriously. 87% of Idaho voters support regulations for oil and gas companies that would help prevent methane gas leaks, and a whopping 92% of us believe that oil and gas companies should pay to restore lands after they’ve finished drilling. CVI routinely endorses candidates that share those same values. To read more about clean energy in Idaho, check out CVI’s blog post here.
#7: Supporting all our neighbors is still central to Idahoans’ ideology
The West grew out of our ability to work together, to support each other through difficult times, and to rise above each challenge. While some narratives assert this has changed in recent years, the numbers don’t lie. 60% of Idahoans support directing funding to disadvantaged communities and people of color in the state to guarantee that each person has access to our parks and public lands. Additionally, 80% of Idaho voters want the Tribes to have greater input regarding the management of any lands that have sacred or culturally important sites. These numbers show we still know what is important, and Idahoans want to ensure everyone has fair access to the resources we all share. CVI is a reflection of Idaho’s community values. We work on collaborative decision-making and grow grassroots leadership in our many communities through the Boards and Commissions Fellowship so that Idaho can continue our legacy of collaboration and build a bright future for our state together.
#8: Growth is a common concern for Idaho voters
In 2020, 83% of Idahoans said “poorly planned growth and development [was] a serious problem.” This year’s survey takes a different look at growth, instead focusing on how it affects our public lands and parks. In 2023, 72% of Idahoans agree that overcrowding at natural areas and recreation sites is a concern. Fortunately, CVI helps advocate for the National Environmental Policy Act [Never Eliminate Public Advice: NEPA Success Stories | NRDC], which can help keep our public lands safe for generations to come, even through these times of change.
#9: Idahoans are deeply concerned about water scarcity, wildfires, and climate change.
Idahoans are used to hearing that we don’t agree on climate change, or that we don’t understand the major challenges facing us. However, a majority of Idahoans already do agree that climate change “is a serious problem.” The indirect effects of climate change are also a common concern, with 82% of Idaho voters worried about recent low water levels in our rivers and 88% concerned about wildfires. We not only understand the challenges before us, we live those challenges every day. CVI helps our neighbors to talk about those challenges with our legislators, and we always push for policies that will support the long-term future of Idaho’s environment.
#10: Across ages, parties, and locations, Idahoans support conservation.
Whether it’s the 73% of conservative GOP voters who support creating more national landmarks through executive action, the 86% of Gen Z voters who agree that climate change is a serious issue, or the 94% of Idaho voters who want to conserve wildlife habitat – we all agree about one thing. Our lands are the cornerstone of who we are in Idaho. We care about these lands, and we’re ready to protect them, for ourselves and every future generation.
If you want to learn more about this survey, check out the State of the Rockies website. If this article resonated with you, please consider joining CVI in our efforts to create the political environment to protect the natural environment by signing up for our newsletters or making a donation!