Nearly three-fourths of Idahoans say the world’s climate is changing, but they disagree on whether the change is a “global crisis” or is “not very damaging,” a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll shows.

The just-completed survey by pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 44 percent of Idahoans believe the climate is changing and it is a crisis, 26 percent say it’s changing, but “not very damaging,” 21 percent deny the majority of climatologists’ claims and say the climate is not changing at all, and 9 percent don’t know.

On another environmental-type issue, 46 percent of Idahoans favor the state taking over federal BLM and forest service lands, 42 percent oppose such a land-swap and 12 percent don’t know.

Jones polled 601 adults from May 20-28; the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.96 percent.

The poll reflects the general trend seen across the United States: Democrats and political independents tend to believe in climate change, while many conservatives and Republicans don’t.

Barely one-fifth of Idaho Republicans believe the climate is warming and it is a global crisis, 40 percent say the climate is changing, but it is “not very damaging,” 30 percent say it isn’t changing at all, and long-term climate models can’t be trusted, while 10 percent of Republicans don’t know.

You don’t see that kind of doubt among Democrats: 84 percent say it is changing and is a crisis; 10 percent say it’s changing but not very damaging; only 2 percent don’t believe the climate is changing at all; and only 4 percent don’t know.

Political independents: 50 percent say it’s changing and is a crisis; 21 percent say it’s changing but not very damaging; 19 percent say it is not changing; and 10 percent don’t know.

The greatest climate doubters are those who describe themselves as “very conservative” politically:

  • Only 16 percent say the climate is changing and it is a crisis.
  • 34 percent say it’s changing, but not very damaging.
  • 40 percent say it is not changing at all.
  • 10 percent don’t know.

In the large public land states of the West there’s a movement – mainly pushed by Republicans – to get the federal government to give to state control million of acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service lands.

The basic argument is that state and local officials can manage the land – both for conservation, recreation and development – better than federal land managers.

In addition, federal officials promised at the individual statehoods that the federal lands would be given to the states at some point – but for the most part that has not happened for more than 100 years.

Overall, Idahoans are split over the idea, finds Jones.

  • 46 percent of Idahoans support the state taking over BLM and federal forest lands.
  • 42 percent oppose the land ownership swap.
  • And 12 percent don’t know.

Generally, Republicans want the land back, Democrats (not in control of the Idaho government) don’t trust the state to manage the land in the best way, and political independents are split, with more leaning against the land exchange.

Jones finds:

  • 59 percent of Idaho Republicans want the state to take over management of the federal lands.
  • 32 percent of Republicans oppose the land change.
  • 11 percent don’t know.

Democrats are against the swap, 63-15 percent, with 12 percent “don’t know.”

And political independents also are against the land swap, 48-40 percent, with 12 percent don’t know.

While Congress could give the BLM and forest service lands back to western states, it will more likely take some kind of broad-reaching U.S. Supreme Court decision.

As mostly-GOP western politicians push Congress to give the lands as promised at statehood, eastern Democrats/liberals block such attempts – which are also opposed by most environmental/conservation groups.

For their part, GOP state officeholders are telling their constituents that they don’t plan to sell off much of the land for private use or development.

In fact, GOP leaders say western public land states will continue to be public land states.

The only question is who is best equipped to manage those public lands, state and local officials or federal land managers?