A survey of 650 voters in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District commissioned by the Hidden Gems wilderness campaign found nearly two-thirds of those questioned support the proposal. Of those polled by telephone, 65 percent said they would support it, while 24 percent said they were opposed.
Seventy-two percent of people surveyed said they support more wilderness protections in Colorado overall.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, pollster Kevin Ingham of RBI Strategies and Research in Denver noted that the people supporting the Gems proposal did so with a “high level of intensity” — 41 percent of them saying they strongly favor it.
The Gems campaign sent a proposal to Colorado’s congressional delegation last month that would designate almost 250,000 acres of land in the 2nd District, most of it in Summit and Eagle counties and also within the White River National Forest and some from the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The survey targeted people in those counties, and did not include voters from Pitkin and Gunnison counties, where Gems proponents have been pushing for another 140,000-odd acres for wilderness designation and haven’t yet sent a proposal to Congress regarding it.
Gems campaign coordinator Pete Kolbenschlag said he anticipates sending that proposal out “sometime this spring.”
He said he believes the survey released yesterday “shows tremendous support for the Hidden Gems proposal from Coloradans from all walks of life.”
Along political lines, 81 percent of Democrats said they favored it, along with 63 percent of independents. Republicans were not as enthusiastic, with 44 percent supporting and 43 percent opposing.
Snowmobilers, who have campaigned actively against the proposal because it would bar mechanized use on wilderness-designated land, unsurprisingly emerged in the survey as the biggest opponents of the Gems: 48 percent opposed and 40 percent claimed support. Mountain bikers, who have also butted heads with Gems proponents and would likewise be banned from riding in the new wilderness, came out 63 percent in favor of the proposal.