A healthy, outdoor lifestyle and clean air, water and environment are increasingly significant factors as to why Latinos choose to live or stay in the West, outranking cost of living and economic opportunities, according to the new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll. This finding also sheds light on why the Antiquities Act, which is coming under fire in Congress, is supported by 86 percent of Latino voters wanting to keep the president’s ability to protect existing public lands as national monuments intact – compared to just 4 percent opposing it. Hispanic Access Foundation released the results to the Spanish-language media this afternoon.
“We’ve long known that public lands are a critical part of why people choose to live and work in the West, but our findings show that these special places are truly the cornerstone of our lifestyle, our values, and what keeps us in the West,” said Dr. Eric Perramond, Director of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project and a professor of environmental science and southwest studies. “Towns and cities across the West have a unique competitive advantage over other regions – access to the peaks, canyons, and rivers found on national public lands.”
This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters – 15 percent of which were Latino – across six states, found that although Latinos are less likely than other Westerners to have ever lived outside of their current state, the same factors keep them in the West. Eighty-nine percent of Latinos cite a healthy, outdoor lifestyle and 87 percent indicate clean air, clean water and environment as to why they choose to live in the West. In comparison, 79 percent and 78 percent of respondents cited cost of living and economic opportunities respectively.
“Latinos hold a great passion for the outdoors and it’s this love that is also leading to a brand new set of advocates,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “In Colorado, New Mexico and California, Latinos have been visible and vocal champions for the creation of new national monuments. Time and again, we hear Latino youth and community leaders say these public lands are important to us and we must protect them for future generations. They understand the need for the Antiquities Act – not just for today’s president but for tomorrow’s too.”
The Antiquities Act, which provides the president with the authority to protect public lands like the recent San Gabriel Mountains as national monuments, has been under fire in Congress where the legislature wants to limit this function of the office. However, Latinos voters are overwhelmingly supportive (86 percent) of maintaining this presidential ability compared to just 4 percent opposing it.
Other findings of the poll include:
- When it comes to specific environmental priorities, there is nearly unanimous Latino support for protecting and conserving natural areas for future generations (97 percent), protecting and conserving wildlife habitat (96 percent) and making sure that rangers have the resources they need to take care of public lands and provide services to visitors (96 percent).
- 74 percent of Latinos want to funding continue for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which receives fees charged to oil and gas companies that drill offshore in order to conserve natural areas and clean water and ensure access to outdoor recreation.
- When it comes to state issues, not surprisingly Latino voters cite Unemployment (95 percent) as a very serious issue, but water issues in the West dominate the top five — pollution of rivers, lakes and streams (90 percent); low levels of water in rivers (87 percent); and adequate water supplies (85 percent).
- 93 percent of Latinos surveyed say they have visited public lands managed by U.S. agencies in the last five years.
The 2015 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) for a total 2,400-person sample. The survey yields a margin of error of +/-2.9 percent nationwide and +/-4.9 statewide. The full survey and Latino results are available on the Colorado College website.