National Wildlife Federation released its poll on September 25, 2012 that reaffirms sportsmen's strong support for conservation, access to public lands -- BOULDER, Colo. - Hunters and anglers believe protecting public lands should be given priority, even if it means limiting energy production on those lands, according to a new national poll<http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/Wildlife/2012/09-25-12-Sportsmen-Poll-Public-Lands-Protection-Trumps-Energy-Production.aspx> released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation. The poll conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting shows threats to America's conservation heritage are priority issues for sportsmen, on par with gun rights. Nearly 80 percent of the hunters and anglers surveyed support opening access to public lands now inaccessible. An overwhelming majority of sportsmen believe it is a priority to conserve fish and wildlife habitat on and manage public lands for fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation. ``It's encouraging to see these poll results reflecting what many of us hunters and anglers have known all along - a safe full of guns or a rack full of rods will do us no good if we don't maintain the integrity of our public lands and healthy populations of fish and wildlife,'' said John Gale, the regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation. Among the poll's key findings: * Given a choice between protecting America's public lands and prioritizing the production of oil, gas and coal, 49 percent want to protect public lands and just 35 percent choose fossil fuel production. * Conservation is just as important as gun rights, according to nearly half (47 percent) of sportsmen polled. Another 13 percent believe conservation issues are even more important than gun rights. * Supermajorities say Congress should update the 1872 Mining Law to ensure public lands are protected and royalties generated are used to clean up abandoned mines (82 percent favor) and restore Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways, including smaller creeks and streams, to protect our health and important fish and wildlife habitat (79 percent favor). * Two in three sportsmen polled (66 percent) believe we have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children's future. Additionally, 69 percent agree the U.S. should reduce its carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and threaten fish and wildlife habitat. * Sportsmen strongly believe BP should be held accountable and fined the maximum amount allowed for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster (81 percent) and that those funds should be used exclusively to restore the fish and wildlife habitat of the Gulf of Mexico and its fishing and hunting heritage and not for infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, ports and convention centers (87 percent). ``Through shifting political winds, sportsmen have not flinched in their conservation values," said Larry Schweiger, NWF president and CEO. "Candidates at all levels should answer this simple question: What's your plan for protecting our outdoor heritage for our children's future? These are ethics that sustain America's wildlife, outdoor economy and healthy families." Some Western lawmakers have shown they are listening to sportsmen and women, Gale said. He pointed to a bill by U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Heinrich's bill, the HUNT Act, would direct federal agencies to inventory all public land greater than 640 acres where hunting and fishing are legal but physically inaccessible. It would also set aside a percentage of resources from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to secure access on these lands, a provision celebrated by hunters and anglers across the nation. ``In addition, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester from Montana recently introduced the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, a legislative package that supports wildlife and habitat conservation, resource management funding, and promotes access and opportunity for hunting and angling on public lands,'' Gale said. Support for maintaining access to public lands and keeping the fisheries and habitat healthy cuts across political and ideological boundaries, said Bill Dvorak, a Colorado fishing guide and outfitter. ``I don't think any one issue gets sportsmen's attention more than attempts to sell off or close public lands,'' Dvorak said. ``Hunters and anglers and business owners like me couldn't do what we love or make a living without the national forests or Bureau of Land Management land.'' Read the poll memo and slide deck at NWF.org/Sportsmen<http://www.nwf.org/sportsmen> and get more National Wildlife Federation news at NWF.org/News<http://www.NWF.org/News>. *** Poll background: This national public opinion poll conducted among 800 self-identified hunters and anglers was conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting from August 27 through September 1, 2012 for the National Wildlife Federation. The sample for this survey was randomly drawn from a list of self-identified hunters and anglers. To qualify, a respondent must have indicated they were a hunter, an angler or both as well as a registered voter. All interviews were conducted by telephone, including 15 percent of the interviews by cell phone. The margin of error for this study is plus or minus 3.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.