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Forum staff reports, Published June 17 2010

Poll finds wide support in ND for conservation land sales

FARGO - A new poll by conservation groups finds North Dakota voters strongly favor increased state support to protect more natural areas, water and wildlife habitat.

The poll results, released Thursday, found that two-thirds of North Dakota voters, 67 percent, support setting aside more state money for conservation, while 30 percent oppose the concept.

The poll found strong support that landowners should be free to make decisions about who should be allowed to buy their property, including non-profit conservation groups.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said landowners should be free to sell their land to be conserved for wetlands, wildlife habitat or natural areas.

Twenty-four percent agreed that landowners should not be able to sell their property to conservation groups because it will “put more land in big, out-of-state interests and take our agricultural lands out of production.”

The April 6-8 telephone survey of 400 voters was commissioned by a group of conservation groups, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust and Ducks Unlimited.

The organizations said they commissioned the poll at a time of unprecedented energy development in the state, including wind farms and oil wells, that are altering the landscape.

Conservation groups have said North Dakota’s laws are the most restrictive in the nation in limiting land sales for preservation.

The poll was conducted by two polling firms, Public Opinion Strategies, which polls for Republicans, and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, a Democratic firm. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

For more read Friday’s Forum.