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Widespread Support For Land Conservation Efforts

Governor Kaine Releases Poll Showing
Widespread Support For Land Conservation Efforts
August 23, 2006 –
~ Virginians say access to outdoor recreation is important ~

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced results of a
statewide survey showing widespread support for using government resources
to protect open space. The survey also shows that many Virginians consider
outdoor recreation and access to open space to be important to their

The questions on protecting natural resources and open space were part
of the Virginia Outdoors Survey, conducted by Virginia Commonwealth
University for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The
3,300-household, mail survey was conducted as part of the revision of the
state’s comprehensive outdoor recreation and open space planning guide, the
Virginia Outdoors Plan. The 30-question survey has a two-percent margin of

Nearly 78% of respondents answered “yes” to the question “Should the
state spend public funds to prevent the loss of exceptional natural areas to
development?” When asked how important is it to protect Virginia’s natural
and open space resources, 67% said it was “very important” and 28% said it
was “important.” Less than two-percent said it was not important.

“The results of this survey reinforce our belief that the people of
Virginia have a great concern for this Commonwealth’s landscapes and open
spaces,” said Governor Kaine. “It also shows our citizens expect their state
government to take a leadership role in natural resource protection.”

More than 70% of those surveyed said they favored outright purchase
from willing sellers as an appropriate tool for conserving open space.

“Working in a bipartisan way with the General Assembly, we have
started to step-up our efforts to protect open space by forging consensus on
common-sense changes to our existing land conservation tax credit program,”
Governor Kaine said. “In addition, we have set an ambitious goal of
protecting an additional 400,000 acres by the end of this administration – a
goal that will require doubling the number of acres currently protected each

Several survey questions revealed that Virginians recognize the
importance of outdoor recreation and access to open space. When asked about
the importance of access to outdoor recreation opportunities for their
families, more than nine-in-ten respondents indicated it was “important” or
“very important,” and fewer than 10% percent said it was “not important.”

The Virginia Outdoor Survey also looked at how Virginians spend their
time in the outdoors and ranked the top 20 outdoor recreational activities.
The top activity, walking for pleasure, was unchanged from the 1992 and 2000
surveys. Water-related activities took four of the top ten activities
(swimming 4th, visiting beaches 6th, fishing 7th, and boating 10th).

The percentage of people driving for pleasure dropped nearly
seven-percent from the 2000 survey. Visiting historic sites saw a 15%
percent increase, and visiting natural areas rose by more than 17%.

“When looking at all of the activities ranked, it appears more people
are visiting historic sites, parks and other natural areas to enjoy the
outdoors,” said Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr. “This
also demonstrates the public’s desire to have natural and historic resources
that are not only preserved, but accessible as well.”

The survey also focuses on the Virginia State Park system and the
public’s expectations from the award-winning 34-park system. More than 40%
of respondents said they had visited a Virginia State Park within the
previous year. “Lack of information” and “too far from home” were the top
two reasons cited for not visiting a state park.

“Virginia State Parks are developed so that the programs and
facilities highlight and complement the park’s natural resources,” said DCR
Director Joseph H. Maroon.

“People come specifically to enjoy, explore and learn more about the
outdoors and our natural and cultural resources. These survey results
confirm that.”

DCR staff will use survey responses to develop regional
recommendations for outdoor recreation infrastructure, and open space and
land conservation strategies. A series of public meetings to review these
regional recommendations and provide input on the 2007 Virginia Outdoors
Plan will be held this fall, and the plan is scheduled to be completed next

For more information, visit the DCR website at

Courtesy of Virginia Forest Watch




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