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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Office of Governor Timothy M. Kaine
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: August 23, 2006
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov

Governor Kaine releases poll showing widespread support for land conservation efforts
Virginians say access to outdoor recreation is important

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced results of astatewide survey showing widespread support for using government resourcesto protect open space. The survey also shows that many Virginians consideroutdoor recreation and access to open space to be important to their families.

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

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

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

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

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

Several survey questions revealed that Virginians recognize the importanceof outdoor recreation and access to open space. When asked about the importanceof access to outdoor recreation opportunities for their families, more thannine-in-ten respondents indicated it was “important” or “veryimportant,” and fewer than 10 percent percent said it was “notimportant.”

The Virginia Outdoor Survey also looked at how Virginians spend their timein the outdoors and ranked the top 20 outdoor recreational activities. Thetop activity, walking for pleasure, was unchanged from the 1992 and 2000surveys. Water-related activities took four of the top ten activities (swimming4th, visiting beaches 6th, fishing 7th, and boating 10th).

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

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

The survey also focuses on the Virginia State Park system and the public’sexpectations from the award-winning 34-park system. More than 40 percentof respondents said they had visited a Virginia State Park within the previousyear. “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 facilitieshighlight and complement the park’s natural resources,” saidDCR Director Joseph H. Maroon.

“People come specifically to enjoy, explore and learn more about theoutdoors and our natural and cultural resources. These survey results confirmthat.”

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

For more information, visit the DCR website at www.dcr.virginia.gov.

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