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Poll: Nevadans favor balanced approach to public lands issues

CARSON CITY — Nevadans love their open space and public lands, favor renewable energy and are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy in his 2014 standoff with federal authorities.

Those were the findings of a poll released Wednesday by the Center for Western Priorities, a nonpartisan conservation and advocacy group. The survey found Nevadans overwhelmingly agree public land issues use should be prioritized collaboratively rather than through conflict with the federal government.

“With each election cycle we’ve seen the growing influence of states like Nevada, Montana and Colorado in national elections,” Jennifer Rokala, director of the center, said in a conference call with reporters.

“Voters in these states and throughout the region care deeply about access to the outdoors and public lands,” she said.

“Regardless of political party, voters in Nevada … favor balance and pragmatism and reject the extreme public lands agenda of Cliven Bundy and his supporters,” Rokala said.

Bundy and armed supporters confronted the Bureau of Land Management and law enforcement when agents moved to confiscate his cattle in April 2014 over unpaid grazing fees. The BLM later abandoned the roundup over fears of violence. Bundy, four of his sons and 14 others are under federal indictment on standoff-related charges.

The telephone survey of 700 likely Nevada voters was conducted May 2-5 by Purple Strategies, a national research firm. The survey has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Brian Gottlieb, the firm’s managing director, said 57 percent of those surveyed disagreed with a statement that Nevada has too much public land, while 31 percent agreed.

Forty-six percent disagree with the rancher and his supporters, based on what they’ve heard, while 34 percent agree and 20 percent said they don’t know. Negative responses rose to 51 percent when the question was asked after explanations of the dispute over public lands and the role of the federal government.

Additionally, 71 percent support national monument status for Clark County’s Gold Butte, with 11 percent opposed.

Other key findings show:

■ Nevadans, by a 74 percent to 12 percent margin, are more likely to support candidates who encourage development of solar, geothermal and wind energy on public lands.

■ Respondents favor continuing mining and oil and gas drilling on public lands, 55 percent to 24 percent, but with added environmental protections. Additionally, they are less likely to support candidates who propose prohibiting energy development on public lands.

■ Nevadans are evenly split when asked if they are more or less likely to support a candidate espousing opening of wilderness areas to motorized vehicles, though Republicans, by a margin of 45 percent to 34 percent, view the idea more favorably.

■ Half of all respondents are less likely to support someone who proposed selling off public lands to reduce the national deficit.

■ Voters, regardless of party, were more likely to vote for a candidate who espoused blocking the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain by an overall margin of 51 percent to 23 percent.

More than 95 percent of Nye County land is controlled by the federal government.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb

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