A new survey conducted by the University of Montana shows broad support from likely state voters for protection and even expansion of public lands.

Geography professor Rick Graetz, who is also the director of the Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone initiative, said the survey is conducted every two years.

One of the contentious issues within the survey deals with the efforts of primarily Republican lawmakers to release wilderness study areas to broader public use.

“They want to get rid of these wilderness study areas,” said Graetz. “They tried to do it, but it hasn’t gotten through Congress. We asked people whether or not they support Daines and Gianforte and legislation that would release all or some of these wilderness study areas that were protected back in 1977 by the Montana Wilderness Study Act. The public overwhelmingly, both Republicans and Democrats expressed their interest because they use them. They think they’re valuable to the economy, and Montanans want them left alone.”

Graetz said the respondents also wanted public meetings to discuss the issue.

In the survey, seventy-six percent of voters also support a recommendation by the Trump administration to declare the Badger-Two Medicine region near Glacier National Park a National Monument. When asked to prioritize management considerations for a potential National Monument, Montanans are more likely to say a monument should protect existing recreation, conserve fish and wildlife habit and provide opportunities for community input.

The report can be found here.