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Latino voters in the West show concern about water and public lands, new survey says

A view of a wetland pond surrounded by green grasses on a partly cloudy day in Utah. Mountains are in the background.
USFWS Mountain-Prairie
The Supreme Court has limited the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate wetlands, such as this wetland at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah.

A recent survey revealed that public lands and water issues are highly important to Latino voters in the West and play a key role in how they will vote in 2024.

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The majority of Latino voters in the West view issues like loss of habitats and polluted water supplies as extremely or very serious problems in their state, the Colorado College's 14th annual Conservation in the West Poll revealed.

Latinos are also concerned about wildfires, air pollution and loss of natural spaces. Concern levels are the highest in the survey's history.

The purpose of the survey is to reach decision makers on a state and national level, said Vanessa Muñoz, waterways manager at Hispanic Access Foundation, an organization that helped with the survey.

“That way we can ensure equitable access to green spaces, recreational opportunities, environmental resources; and that's essential for empowering Latino communities to actively participate in conservation activities and enjoy the benefits of nature,” Muñoz said.

The poll surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states, including Nevada, on pressing issues involving public lands, waters, and climate change.

Seventy-eight percent of Latino voters think the effects of climate change in their state over the past 10 years are significant.

Conservation is top of mind for Latino westerners ahead of the 2024 elections.

Compared to other issues like the economy, health care, and education, 89% of Latino voters in the West say issues involving clean water, clean air, wildlife, and public lands are important in deciding whether to support an elected official.

The poll surveyed nearly 900 registered Latino voters in eight western states (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, & WY) in January 2024.

Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.