|SUMMARY OF PUBLIC OPINION POLLS AND SURVEYS
citizens believe pollution of our lakes and rivers and the need for clean water is the
most urgent environmental issue facing Washington State. Public Opinion Survey,
Martilla and Killey, October 12-19, 1994.
Regarding water quality, seventy-two percent of those polled thought that laws
and regulations designed to control water pollution "were not stringent enough."
With respect to streamside or wetland protection, fifty-two percent of those polled
thought that regulations designed to protect wetlands were "not strict enough." Louis
Harris and Associates Poll, August 3-6, 1995. By a 2:1 margin, voters showed strong
support for an initiative to protect water quality in Washington state.
Regarding our salmon resource, twenty-six percent of Washingtons citizens
have heard or read about the decline of wild salmon populations in our state. Sixty-eight
percent have heard quite a bit. Thirty-percent of Washingtons citizens have heard
little or hardly anything about the decline of the wild salmon populations in our state.
Of those who have heard about the decline of wild salmon, over eighty-one percent would
describe the problem as fairly serious or critical. Surprisingly, fifty-four percent of
our citizens believe scientists are not sure yet what steps should be taken to solve the
problems associated with the decline of the Pacific salmon.
Fifty seven percent rated the health of fish and wildlife populations as
"poor" or "fair" while only 13% rated it "very good." Fifty
percent of the respondents rated the decline over the last 20 years in fish and wildlife
populations as "severe" or "extreme" while only 11% rated it as
"slight" or "minimal." Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Over forty-percent of the citizens associate salmon as an indicator species, which
means its problems reflect larger environmental problems that must be solved. Thirty-five
percent recognize salmon fish is an important part of Washingtons economy, and we
must help it to thrive again. In addition, thirteen-percent believe that salmon, beyond
its importance in other ways, is a special cultural symbol in Washington State and must be
In general, most respondents viewed loss of habitat as an important cause in the
decline of Washingtons wildlife. Seventy five percent rated the importance of
habitat loss as "extremely" or "very" important to the decline of fish
and wildlife populations in Washington. Ninety four percent of the respondents say it is
important that fish and wildlife have places to take refuge from human activity. Eighty
seven percent say society has a responsibility to protect fish and wildlife even though
there are many other problems to worry about. Eighty six percent believe society has a
moral obligation to preserve all species of wildlife. Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife Opinion Survey/1996
Sixty-six percent of Washingtons citizens believe improving water quality in
our lakes, streams and rivers is extremely important and fifty-seven percent believe
protecting Pacific salmon is extremely important.
Eighty-four percent of Washingtons citizen believe the salmon population will
survive ONLY if we take special steps to protect it.
Any specific recovery strategy should include a broad base of interest groups,
especially with the input from the scientific and environmental communities. Society
expects that affected industry try to work together on this issue, to the greatest extent
Seventy-one percent of the voters will support an initiative recognizing Puget Sound as
an important economic and cultural asset.
Sixty-nine percent more likely to support an initiative if it will provide better
protection for shellfish areas from pollution and waste.
Regarding agricultural practices, our citizen believe the problem with salmon
has many causes, rather than one major cause; however, forty-seven percent believe water
pollution is the primary cause contributing to the salmon problem with twenty-seven
percent believing agricultural practices and the use of pesticides as the primary causes
of the decline of salmon.
However, in a recent independent poll conducted by Evans/McDonough Co. Inc, 1996,
over 60% of our citizens believe the state and federal government should impose more
regulations along streams to protect water quality.
With respect to agricultural grazing practices, over 58% of the citizens recognize
livestock grazing along streams causes water pollution and over should not be allowed in
Regarding agricultural practices that remove natural vegetation on lands adjacent to
streams, over 51% percent of the citizens recognize these practices cause water pollution
and damage to fish habitat.
Most importantly, over 62% percent of Washington citizens recognize that the
removal of streamside vegetation will impact water pollution and cause damage to fish
habitat and support requiring natural vegetation buffers adjacent to streams.
If ranchers were required to construct fences on their property to keep livestock
out of streams. Approximately 37% believe ranchers and taxpayers should share the cost of
constructing fences, and another 37% believe ranchers responsibility alone.
In addition, over 62% of our citizens equally believe it is important to protect
streams on both private land and public land.