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Poll rates popularity of area organizations

Feller
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada County residents view both slow-growth groups and property rights groups favorably, according to a poll paid for by California’s timber giant, Sierra Pacific Industries.

They also feel the greatest frustration about elected officials not listening to voters and worsening traffic, the poll revealed.



The poll, conducted by Sacramento-based J. Moore Methods Inc., a Democratic public opinion research firm, asked 400 Nevada County voters for their opinions over the course of three days in late January. Pollsters, working out of a 35-employee phone bank in Placerville, did not know who commissioned the poll, firm President James Nelson Moore said.




Tim Feller, Tahoe district manager for SPI, mentioned the poll at a public meeting on forestry issues Feb. 15. He said Thursday it was a coincidence poll results were released two weeks before the primary election. He would not say how much the company paid for the poll.

Fifty-one percent of those polled were Republicans, 34 percent were Democrats, and 15 percent said they had no party affiliation.

On topics ranging from bringing jobs into the county to building a countywide recreation trail system, people were asked, “Is the issue of (fill in the blank) very or somewhat important to you?” They were then asked, “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with how Nevada County is handling this issue?”

The disparity between how important people consider the matter and how well they consider it handled is what Moore calls the “frustration index.”

When asked “Is the issue of elected officials listening to the voters somewhat important to you?”, 88 percent said they considered it very important and 10 percent said it was somewhat important. Thirty-one percent said they were satisfied and 58 percent described themselves as dissatisfied with how Nevada County was handling the issue.

The disparity between how important people considered the matter and how well they thought it was handled was 57 percent, the highest out of 22 questions, Moore said.

Worsening traffic congestion gained the second-highest disparity at 47 percent.

Moore said most of his clients are environmental organizations, but that he took the job for SPI because he grew up in the same town as the company’s president, Aldis “Red” Emmerson.

The poll asked, “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of (fill in the blank)?” regarding several state, federal and local organizations.

Pro-development groups gained a 46 percent unfavorable view against a 26 percent favorable one. Twenty-eight percent had no opinion.

— The California Department of Forestry led the group, with 73 percent of those polled saying they had a favorable opinion of the agency.

— The Forest Service was first runner-up, with a 72 percent favorable response.

— Nevada Irrigation District gained a 62 percent favorable review, 15 percent unfavorable and 23 percent no opinion.

— The California Farm Bureau had a 49 percent favorable rating, 9 percent unfavorable and 42 percent no opinion.

— The Union newspaper had a 47 percent favorable rating, 31 percent unfavorable, and 22 percent no opinion.

— The Nature Conservancy got a 46 percent favorable rating, 16 percent unfavorable and 38 percent with no opinion.

— PG&E was a dead heat with 42 percent favorable response, 42 unfavorable and 16 percent no opinion.

— The Sierra Club gained a 35 percent favorable response and 39 percent unfavorable. Twenty-six percent had no opinion.

— The South Yuba River Citizens League is viewed favorably by 32 percent of those polled, with 26 percent giving an unfavorable opinion of the nonprofit organization. Forty-two percent had no opinion.

— SPI netted a 30 percent favorable response and a 23 percent unfavorable one. Forty-seven percent had no opinion.

— Nonprofit Sierra Business Council gained a 24 percent favorable rating, and an 18 percent unfavorable. Fifty-eight percent had no opinion.

— The Building Industry Association gained 24 percent of the favorable response, 19 percent unfavorable and 57 percent no opinion.

— The proposed Natural Heritage 2020 program, the county’s long-term planning effort, gained 23 percent of the favorable view, 45 percent unfavorable, and 32 percent with no opinion.

— Yuba Nation was the lowest ranking environmental group in the poll, with a favorable vote of 15 percent, an unfavorable vote of 34 percent, and 51 percent having no opinion on Yuba Nation.

SPI, which owns 50,000 acres in Nevada County and is second only to Ted Turner as the country’s largest private landowner, was the target of Yuba Nation’s summer of 2000 protests against clear-cutting.

In June 2000, a Yuba Nation protester locked himself to a 30-foot tripod blocking the entrance to an SPI logging project on San Juan Ridge. Later that month, four women who belonged to Yuba Nation were arrested after they locked themselves to SPI equipment to disrupt logging activity on the company’s land near the Middle Yuba River.

Feller’s Grass Valley’s office was also the site of one of the group’s protests, when one Yuba Nation protester dropped a gold-painted stump on Feller’s desk, breaking a glass top that covered his family photos. At the same time, four Yuba Nation protesters also chained themselves together at the neck with bicycle locks, according to Grass Valley police officers who responded to the call. An emergency fire vehicle was then summoned to bring “Jaws of Life” metal cutters and cut the bicycle locks so protesters could be arrested.

The bulk of the poll contained questions on forestry matters, which SPI’s Feller said would help the company address issues and concerns of the community and formulate plans for management.

One question was “Some people believe that government should pass more stringent laws to regulate and manage California’s forests. Other believe there are sufficient laws already on the books to regulate and manage California’s forests. Which views come closer to your own?”

Seventy-three percent of those polled said they believed there were “sufficient laws on the books” now. Twenty-one percent agreed with “need more stringent laws.” Six percent said they had no opinion.

Feller said he was surprised there was support for forest management laws as they are.


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