Our Lands-Our Future Survey Results Released
Department: Natural Resources
Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Zac Wiebe, Department of Natural Resources, 679-4534, email@example.com
Larimer County and all the municipalities within recently released the results of a survey about land conservation, stewardship, and outdoor recreation. The citizen survey, administered by RRC Associates, investigated use and satisfaction with trails, natural areas and nature-based facilities, community values for open space, views on natural areas and trail management, and provided an opportunity for suggestions and feedback. The survey results will help open space managers with future planning and policy. The survey is one element of Our Lands - Our Future, a comprehensive study of regional land conservation, stewardship, and outdoor recreation. The full report is posted at www.larimer.org/ourlands_ourfuture
Scientific Survey Results
All respondents had visited at least one natural area in Larimer County in the past year. When asked, “If you do not use natural areas or nature-based facilities in Larimer County, what are the reasons?” lack of awareness of natural areas or facilities and lack of time were the top responses. The top recreation choices were walking/hiking/running on paved and natural surface trails, biking on paved trails or roads, camping, recreating with dogs and fishing. Satisfaction with recreation experiences was high and only hunting and snowmobiling opportunities received less than 60% high satisfaction ratings. Respondents were most interested in agencies acquiring additional lands/facilities for walking/hiking/running on natural surfaces and biking on paved trails, and supported the use of public funds to make those acquisitions.
When asked about future priorities for land conservation spending, waterways such as lakes, rivers and streams, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, and trail corridors were respondents’ top choices. Regarding funding sources, participants in the survey preferred implementing user fees and extending sales taxes to fund future conservation and management of natural lands and facilities. Respondents also indicated an interest in funding being divided between acquisition of new natural areas (67%) and the management of existing (31%) areas similar to the split outlined in the current citizen initiated ¼-cent Help Preserve Open Spaces Sales Tax, which supports conservation and recreation efforts throughout Larimer County.
Another part of the survey queried citizens about their opinion on types of land that should be acquired. Regional trail corridors, ecologically sensitive lands and lands near neighborhoods and schools were identified as the top priorities. Most citizens preferred an equal management emphasis on conservation vs. recreation. Nearly half of those surveyed were familiar or very familiar with Larimer County’s natural areas and open spaces. Most learned about trails and programs at the natural area or program location, through local newspapers or via websites. Respondents identified email and newspapers as the best way to reach themselves.
Demographics of survey respondents generally matched the demographics of Larimer County. (continued next page)
The survey concluded with several open-ended questions, which generated over 100 pages of input which is seen as a strong indication of the depth of attention and interest in open space and natural areas in Larimer County.
The survey was mailed to a random sample of 7,500 Larimer County residents and 922 people responded resulting in a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points. In addition to the mailed survey, an online version was available to the general public. The online option generated another 1,248 responses and, while not included in the statistically valid reporting, will contribute greatly to the valuable feedback received so far.
A similar survey was conducted in 2001. The 2012 survey found that awareness of natural areas in Larimer County had grown significantly (from 13% to 46% choosing familiar or very familiar with local open spaces). Similar conservation preferences were identified in both years with wildlife habitat and waterways topping the priority list. Regional trail systems were also supported strongly by 70% of respondents in both surveys.
Partners in Our Lands -Our Future include Larimer County, the Cities of Fort Collins and Loveland, and the Towns of Berthoud, Estes Park, Johnstown, Timnath, Wellington and Windsor.
The Our Lands-Our Future study is ongoing with further public outreach tools being implemented. Another opportunity for input will be at a public meeting, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, from 6-8 p.m. at The Fountains of Loveland and Devil’s Backbone Grill (La Quinta Inn) in west Loveland at Cascade and U.S. Highway 34. Participants will have a chance to use a new interactive mapping website, participate in a second survey, and give comments and feedback on their land conservation priorities. Activities for the kids will keep the entire family engaged! The event is free, no registration required.
Free presentations about the Our Lands- Our Future project are available for groups at any time and can be scheduled by contacting Zac Wiebe at firstname.lastname@example.org
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