Public Opinion Strategies, the polling firm that does work for Rep. Dave Reichert, conducted a couple of focus groups of conservative voters on both sides of the Cascades recently and the results were rather interesting. The focus groups were held in Kent and Wenatchee in November and those involved identify as conservative voters and participate in Republican primary elections, according to Lori Weigel of POS.
The research showed strong support in both focus groups for the value of public lands and the recreational opportunities those lands provide. The natural areas were seen as a tremendous resource, a boon for tourism and important for the quality of life we enjoy.
There was support from both groups for improving protection as needed for public lands, such as the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, as well as a strong sense of threat to public lands from development. The loss of agricultural land to development was specifically cited in the Wenatchee focus group.
The study also suggested that people perceive an array of benefits from having accessible public lands including improvements in quality of life and the desire to get kids outdoors and away from television and computer games.
The research is a follow-up to a survey done in 2012 by the same research group that demonstrated widespread support for conservation on both sides of the Cascades. The 8th is the only district in the state that incorporates parts of eastern and western Washington.
It's heartening to see that people in this state continue to see the wide-ranging value of our natural assets and the need to conserve and enhance them. The research is another reminder that people on both sides of the Cascades can agree on some pretty important issues.
The local Foothills Campaign, which raised in excess of $8.4 million for enhancing the foothills next to Wenatchee, demonstrated how deep local conservation support is in North Central Washington.