On Tuesday, voters affirmed their commitment to public land and conservation in an era of multifaceted attacks on wilderness, wildlife, national monuments, critical habitat, and clean air and water.
From Montana to Minnesota, to states as far from the West as Connecticut and Georgia, voters turned out in decisive numbers to support pro-public-land candidates and to oppose the pro-industry favoritism of President Trump and interior secretary Ryan Zinke. Equally noteworthy, several races wound up with Republicans and Democrats toeing the same line of public-lands support—lending credibility to the idea that conservation issues offer a rare space for politicians and voters from both parties to meet in the middle. “You look at the big picture and candidates in swing states realized that pro-public-lands stances are a beneficial place to go,” says Aaron Weiss of the Denver-based nonprofit Center for Western Priorities. “It’s one of the last big issues that really speaks to folks in both parties.”