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Questioning the Gems polls

Dear Editor:

Perhaps a reality check is needed in the Hidden Gems debate.

Two “official” polls have been conducted over the past three years, both generated, and paid for, by the proposing party. Having read both polls in their entirety, I concluded that both were designed to elicit a prescribed response, with that response being pro-Wilderness (results were 65-plus percent for Wilderness).



Although both polls were conducted by a legitimate polling organization (RBI Strategies and Research), both polls were telephone-based and quite verbose.

I don’t know about you, but when I am asked to listen to a question and respond with a specific set of answers, I am usually overwhelmed, unless the question is succinct. A listener will typically focus on a few key words, not the overall question, and the caller’s inflection can sway the answer.




Since I have not heard a recording of either of these polls, I can only speculate, but after reading each question, while trying to keep an open mind, I would have been apt to reply as “for” additional Wilderness, even though I believe our forest has enough.

Where and when the polls were conducted are certainly other points of contention. Most of the calls were to Front Range residents, not to residents in the affected counties, and no information has been listed as to the hours/days calls were made.

Four local newspaper polls, while not “official” or “scientific,” were straightforward and non-biased in their approach, primarily covered the affected counties and consistently recorded 70-plus percent against more Wilderness.

What is the answer? I wish I knew a way to conduct an unbiased poll. Perhaps a collaborative effort in writing the questions and a prescribed tone with which to read them? Or a vote on the matter in the affected counties, also with collaborated writing? Since neither of these is likely to happen, our chances to affect this proposal are at the upcoming public forums being held by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis:

• June 1: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Boulder Public Library, Boulder.

• June 3: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Battle Mountain High School, Edwards (this is the closest one to us).

• June 5: Colorado Mountain College’s Breckenridge campus, Breckenridge.

If you live in Eagle, Summit, Garfield, Pitkin or Gunnison counties, this proposal affects you! Come to one or all of these forums to voice your opinion, and/or go to http://www.polis.house.gov to let Jared Polis know what you think.

John Hembel

Basalt

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