Move Over Disney World: Americans Prefer Nature, Survey Finds

A new survey finds surprising political unity when it comes to environmental preservation.

July 13, 2012

Higher taxes are worth it, if it means saving this, a new survey says.

In a controversial election year, countless debates fly back and forth from both political parties, particularly about environmental issues—be they climate change or controversial natural gas drilling. But there appears to be one environmental issue on which all Americans agree, and that's environmental preservation.


Last month, The Nature Conservancy asked two public-opinion research groups (one Democratic, one Republican) to conduct a survey for them. Through phone interviews, the groups polled 800 registered voters about their views in regards to natural resources conservation, which resulted in near unanimous findings. "Overall, it is clear that conservation is an issue that more often unites, rather than divides, the American people,” David Metz, of the Democratic poll group Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, said in a statement accompanying the survey. Environmental conservation does more than just unite voters as an idea they can get behind. Indeed, most Americans feel it's their patriotic duty to protect the wild and preserve America's national parks. Here are a few of the survey's key findings:           

1. Americans consider it their duty to watch over the environment. Regardless of political party affiliation, four out of five Americans consider protecting natural resources a patriotic obligation and think citizens should take pride in conserving our nation's land and water.

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2. People are willing to pay more to conserve wild places. Although cost cutting has been a huge topic of debate in political circles the past four years, 74 percent of voters surveyed objected to federal budget cuts for conservation, claiming that natural resources are patriotic and there should be funding to preserve the land, air, and water. In fact, most people seem to be die-hard conservationists, with 83 percent of voters saying they were willing to pay higher taxes to protect land, water, and wildlife habitats where they live.

3. Forget Disney World—most Americans would prefer a National Park vacation. Sure, a lot of summer vacations include visits to theme parks, the mountains, or tropical destinations; however, 75 percent of voters claim they'd prefer to take a vacation to national parks in public lands than spend time away in the typical tourist hot spots.

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4. Voters believe that protecting the land will encourage a greater love of the outdoors. In our current technological age, it's not uncommon for children to spend hours upon hours indoors with their eyes plastered to a television or computer screen. Eighty-two percent of people surveyed believe that kids do not spend enough time outside in nature, and in their opinion, preserving the environment might facilitate more outdoor activity and encourage kids put down the joystick in exchange for fresh air.