Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Research Finds Voters Don’t Believe Either Party Is Doing Enough to Protect National Parks, Public Lands
Press Release

RELEASE: New Research Finds Voters Don’t Believe Either Party Is Doing Enough to Protect National Parks, Public Lands

Washington, D.C. — New public opinion research conducted by Hart Research Associates found that, in the wake of the recent government shutdown, voters feel that neither Congress, the administration, nor either political party is doing enough to protect national parks and public lands.

The survey found widespread frustration with the government shutdown and strong opposition—across party lines—to ongoing budget cuts that force seasonal closures of parks and wildlife refuges. By a margin of more than 3-to-1, voters believe that leaders in Washington should be creating new parks and expanding opportunities for Americans to get outdoors, instead of closing national parks and cutting budgets for public lands.

Voters also express greater trust in President Barack Obama—37 percent—than Republicans in Congress—29 percent—to protect national parks and public lands, but 45 percent of independents trust no one to adequately address these issues.

“The government shutdown put a spotlight on how Congress has been treating our national parks, forests, and public lands since the Tea Party takeover in 2010, and Americans clearly do not like what they see,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Americans believe we should be investing in our national treasures and protecting more places to get outdoors, not slashing budgets and forcing park closures.”

According to a recent Center for American Progress analysis, the government shutdown was the latest setback for national parks and public lands in recent years. Since 2010, the budget to operate national parks has been slashed by 13 percent in today’s dollars, or $315 million. The last Congress was the first since World War II to not protect a single new acre of public land as a national park, wilderness, monument, or national wildlife refuge, and—unless something changes—the current Congress is on track to become the second.

The public opinion research was conducted October 31 through November 4 through interviews of 1,005 adults who voted in the 2012 elections across the country. The interviews were conducted by telephone, both landline and cell phone. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points overall.

To read an analysis by Hart Research Associates of the survey results, click here.

To read the survey results, click here.

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For more information, contact Anne Shoup at [email protected] or 202.481.7146.