MISSOULA - Montana residents are increasingly worried that rapid growth is degrading their outdoor way of life, according to a new University of Montana poll.
The UM Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative released its fifth biennial poll of Montanans’ opinions of public lands, wildlife, and the policies and actions that conserve them.
According to the Missoula Current, the survey clearly shows voters are experiencing growing pains. Initiative Director Rick Graetz said that Montana wants to grow, but keep the state livable, affordable and make good on the conservation efforts that protect wildlands and open spaces.
The survey shows that Montanans continue to recreate on public lands at a number similar to before the pandemic. However, some of the enjoyment has been lost as they’ve experienced more crowding and poor behavior over the past two years as people have flooded in from out of state.
When asked about changes in quality of life over the past five years, 55% said it’s declined and only 7% said it’s gotten better.
Almost 60% said the rate of growth and development in the state is too fast. And people in the fastest growing areas, like Missoula and Bozeman, were far more concerned about growth than residents in rural Montana.