Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, email@example.com, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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 families.
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 error.
Nearly 78 percent 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 percent said it was “very important” and 28 percent 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 percent 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 year.”
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 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 percent.
“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 percent 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 spring.
For more information, visit the DCR website at www.dcr.virginia.gov.
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