Voters polled about land use, government |

Voters polled about land use, government

No new rules governing land use or logging are needed in Nevada County.

Most people oppose controversial land-use program Natural Heritage 2020.

And slightly more people have an unfavorable opinion of county supervisors than a favorable one, according to a Democratic pollster’s survey of Nevada County residents for Sierra Pacific Industries.

J. Moore Methods, Inc., a Sacramento-based public opinion research firm run by James Nelson Moore, polled 400 county residents who had voted in three recent elections on their views of local government, land use and forest management.

Seventy-three percent of those polled believe California has sufficient laws on the books to regulate and manage the state’s forests. Thirty-five percent believe the California Forest Practices Act does an excellent or good job of maintaining proper management of the state’s forests.

Sixty-one percent believe the county’s General Plan is sufficient and that NH 2020 should not be adopted.

Thirty-nine percent have an unfavorable opinion of the county’s Board of Supervisors; 36 percent have a favorable opinion. Twenty-five percent have no opinion.

Pollsters asked voters about each supervisor as well as candidates, but Moore asked that that information not be released.

Moore’s usual client list includes environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Sierra Business Council and the Greenbelt Alliance. Jerry Meral, executive director of Planning & Conservation League, said he has hired Moore “more times than I can remember” to perform polls for his environmental group.

Moore has also performed polls for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and state Sen. John Burton.

“Republicans don’t let me in the door,” said Moore.

For three days in late January, Moore’s firm’s called active Nevada County voters to ask them what they think of environmental organizations.

Moore said he took the job because he grew up in the same Humboldt County town as SPI’s president, Aldis “Red” Emmerson.

Moore’s firm selected those polled using a stratified random sample from Nevada County voter registration records, he said. He used four categories to identify those to be polled: voters in the 2000 and 1998 primary elections and the November 2000 general election, and voters over age 30 who have registered to vote since November 2000.

The questions asked in January’s poll were the same as those used in a statewide poll Moore performed for SPI in 2000 in which 2,000 people were polled, he said.

Nevada County has 57,336 voters, according to county figures submitted to the Secretary of State for the March 5 primary election.

Republicans voters number 26,191, or 45.7 percent; and Democrats total 18,634, or 32.5 percent. Fourteen percent of the county’s voters are registered as independent.

Jon Cohen, survey research manager for the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute of California, agreed with Moore’s assessment that the margin of error for a poll of this size is five points either way.

That sampling error means that 95 times out of a 100, the results will be within 5 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population were interviewed, Cohen explained.

Responding to criticism that SPI got results it liked from a poll it paid for, Moore said he conducted the poll “to determine to what degree the public supported the forest products industry.”

“These guys made an effort to reach out and find out what the public thought so they could align themselves better (with public opinion),” Moore said.

Tim Feller, Tahoe district manager for SPI, said the company thought about conducting a poll in December.

“We were just interested in getting what the community thought about certain issues,” he said. “We didn’t think the county was as polarized as some said.”

SPI also wanted to see how Nevada County compared to the rest of state. It’s 10 percent more pessimistic than the rest of the state, Moore said.

Those polled are “Republicans who recycle,” he said.

Sixty-three percent of those polled call themselves environmentalists, Moore said. Thirty percent of those polled have lived in the county more than 20 years; 34 percent have lived in the county more than 10 years.

It’s just coincidence that the poll came out shortly before the March 5 primary election, Feller said.

“It just took a while to put it together when we first had the idea last December,” he said.

“When (SPI foresters Dario Davidson and Robert Ingram) dropped out of the NH 2020 (forestry) working group, we said, ‘Let’s find out what people think,'” Feller said.

Feller declined to reveal what SPI paid for the poll.

— Tomorrow: More detailed poll results.

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