The environment remains a concern for a majority of Idahoans, with just over half (50 percent) ranking it as a top priority for the Idaho Legislature. We asked Idahoans to identify the environmental issue that they are most concerned about. Results indicate that their top concern is wildfire (22%), followed closely by drought (20%). Air quality (12%) and animals and wildlife (12%) are lesser concerns, while increased heat (5%) is the lowest response. About 24% of Idahoans think all of these issues are a concern, while 4% say they are not concerned about any of them.
There are indications that a regional effect may be in play, as concern over wildfire is more pronounced in Kootenai County (33%) with its highest concentration of forest land than other areas, while drought is of greater concern to Twin Falls County (33%) given its agricultural focus.
When asked what they think has the greatest impact on wildfires in Idaho, most Idahoans indicated poor land management (34%), followed by increasing drought (23%), climate change (16%), and overbuilding in wild areas (7%). About 14% of Idahoans think that they all have an impact, while 2% say none of them do.
Two years ago, we sought to understand what Idahoans thought about the proposal to remove the four federal dams on the lower Snake River in Washington to aid in salmon and steelhead recovery. At that time, a specific proposal had not yet been released. Now, that is no longer the case. As such, we revisited the question to see if Idahoans’ opinions on the dam removals had changed with access to more information.
Generally, the answer is no. As before, Idahoans remain divided on their opinions about removing the four dams on the lower Snake River, with 42% in favor and 42% opposed. As with two years ago, a sizable portion of the state is not sure or refused to share their opinion (17%). Once again, party identification was a strong indicator of support, with Democrats generally favoring the proposal (63%), while Republicans are opposed (52%). Independents are more split, with 43% in favor and 39% opposed.