The Nature Conservancy has once again teamed up with the bipartisan public opinion strategy firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates to provide us with new and sometimes surprising insights into the perceptions of Gulf Coast residents concerning conservation and the RESTORE Act.
Their March 2013 regional survey of voters in counties and parishes along the Gulf Coast was designed primarily to gauge voters’ views on how Clean Water Act fines paid by BP and others involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill should be used once returned to Gulf coast states. Poll results indicate that more than three-quarters of voters want oil spill funds to pay for coastal restoration. This result applies among all subgroups sampled, including groups in each of the Gulf states of TX, LA, MS, AL, and FL as well as across the political spectrum. Voter support for restoration remained strong even after hearing arguments from both sides, to spend funds for ecological restoration versus job creation.
Even more surprising are insights into the "language of Gulf conservation" that came out of this survey. It highlights the rationales and language that generally motivate people concerning Gulf ecosystem restoration and conservation. Here's a little self test to see if you are in sync with the public on this issue:
True or False?
1. T F Voters concerned about oil spill damage also recognize Gulf systems as threatened and polluted.
2. T F Voters are overwhelmingly concerned about water, and protecting river water quality, dunes and beaches.
3. T F Voters generally do not recognize the value of natural systems as protective barriers along the coast.
4. T F "Natural infrastructure" is not a good term to use when referring to Gulf ecosystems.
5. T F "Resilience" is something that people recognize & understand when it comes to themselves, but not the land.
6. T F Cultural connections to the Gulf are strong, but not an effective argument for conservation.
7. T F Climate change is generally recognized as affecting Gulf ecosystems and important in conservation planning.
8. T F Local messengers on the "front lines," such as firefighters and local scientists, make the best messengers.