Virginians Support Protection of Natural Areas

Story Highlights
  • Nine out of 10 Virginians express importance of protecting natural areas and open space.
  • Nearly three out of four Virginians support public spending for conservation.

Every five years, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation conducts a survey to assess Virginians’ opinions towards outdoor recreation, measure participation in recreational activities, and gauge attitudes towards conservation of natural areas and spending.

The latest survey results reveal that Virginians maintain a strong commitment to natural areas. Moreover, they express a willingness to pay for conservation.

Nine out of 10 Virginians believe that protecting natural areas and open spaces is important (27.6 percent) or very important (65.8 percent). Nearly three out of four (73.2 percent) support public spending to prevent the loss of natural areas and open spaces, and nine out of 10 say that access to outdoor recreation is important (36.1 percent) or very important (55.6 percent).

In his op-ed for the Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia Executive Director Michael Lipford discusses not only our priorities as Virginians, but also the governor’s responsibility and our collective responsibility to the next generation:

A Conservation Promise Worth Keeping

Virginians take great pride in our natural heritage, and rightfully so. Few states, especially here on the populous East Coast, can rival our winning combination of coast and mountains, our expanses of rural meadows and the Chesapeake Bay.

Our lands and our waters help define our identity and our quality of life as Virginians. They fuel our natural-resource industries such as forestry, farming and fishing. They bring millions of tourist dollars into Virginia.... Read more

NPR interviewed Nikki Rovner, Conservancy director of government relations in Virginia, for a story discussing the survey results and our governor’s responsibility:

Virginians value open space, and they’re willing to pay for it.

This is the word from the state’s Department of Conservation, which recently did a survey on the subject. Virginia is developing about 60,000 acres a year, and The Nature Conservancy is calling on the governor to step up.

Politicians often give lip service to protecting open space, and a new survey of Virginia residents suggests they should also take action… Hear more

The 2011 Virginia Outdoors Demand Survey (VODS) finds high regard for the importance of outdoor recreation opportunities and a strong commitment to the protection of natural areas among the general public. The survey finds strong support for public funding and public management of lands in pursuit of the protection of natural areas and the availability of public access to those resources.”

Candidate Bob McDonnell’s pledge to preserve 400,000 acres:

“The conservation and preservation of Virginia’s beautiful open spaces is an ongoing bipartisan effort. Governor Tim Kaine and Speaker Bill Howell both deserve our appreciation for their work to conserve over 400,000 acres of open space during this decade. As our population increases, and land is developed in Virginia at a rate of roughly 60,000 acres a year, it is important we continue this bipartisan conservation effort. As Governor I will do so by ensuring that we conserve another 400,000 acres by the conclusion of my term in January 2014.”

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

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