News | May 4, 2009

Watauga County Resident Survey: Strong Support for Conservation Land-use Planning

The results of an opinion survey of Watauga County voters this spring shows strong support across the board for reforming local development policies to better conserve natural areas and minimize landslide hazards in the fast-growing county in the mountains western North Carolina.

A strong majority of survey respondents is concerned about the impact development is having on the county's natural resources, with 70% to 80% expressing concern over impacts to water quality, groundwater, hiking and fishing access, open space, forestland, the county's rural character, and scenic views. Sixty-four percent of respondents are concerned about impacts to agricultural land.

The survey of 402 randomly selected Watauga County registered voters was conducted the Center for Assessment and Research Alliances at Mars Hill College, in conjunction with the Southern Environmental Law Center, and funded by the Watauga-based Helen M. Clabough Charitable Foundation.

Some of the findings:

  • 90% agree with policies that preserve buffer areas adjacent to mountain streams to protect water quality;
  • At least 80% agreed with the need to protect wildlife habitat and corridors, promote voluntary conservation easements, and preserve scenic views; 
  • 70% support policies to maintain access to trails and rivers; and 
  • 60% support efforts to create connections between existing parcels of open space.

Read the full results here (pdf)

©Photo Gabriel Cummings, UNC