As the global pandemic has driven more families to seek safer outdoor recreation options, Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support open spaces, parks and the outdoors, according to a new poll that highlights the importance of environmental issues as voters go to the polls in a key swing state.

Eighty-nine percent of voters say that open space is either very or somewhat important to them, according to a poll conducted Sept. 20 through 27 of 1,332 likely 2020 Pennsylvania voters.

Nearly 85 percent of voters say that the ongoing pandemic has made open spaces and parks more important than ever, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“While the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly dominating this election cycle, it is also highlighting in voters’ minds the importance of robust environmental protections that preserve Pennsylvania’s open spaces,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, which, along with the Growing Greener Coalition sponsored the poll. “As Harrisburg is forced to make tough decisions in difficult fiscal circumstances, voters demand that our elected leaders prioritize policies that protect clean air and drinking water.”

More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania voters want Harrisburg to pursue a number of important environmental priorities, including preventing oil and gas pipeline accidents, preserving farmland, cleaning up rivers and streams and protecting the quality of Pennsylvania’s drinking water.

“The poll sheds light on the oft-ignored moral aspect of land, water, and wildlife conservation: 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians say we need to take care of our natural environment for the sake of our children and grandchildren, the vast majority of these feeling quite strongly about this,” said Any Loza, Executive Director of WeConservePA, the facilitating partner of the Growing Greener Coalition. “And 9 in 10 Pennsylvanians believe that even in these tough times, state government still needs to find the money to invest in protecting our land, water, and wildlife.”

Pennsylvania voters also overwhelmingly support increasing funding for critical environmental priorities — even if it means raising taxes and fees.

Nearly 75 percent of voters support dedicating existing sales tax revenue generated from outdoor recreation activities like hunting and fishing to programs that improve water quality. More than 60 percent of voters support ending the state sales tax exemption for bottled water and using the revenue generated to improve water quality. And 60 percent support a $10 a year tax increase to increase funding for conservation programs.