Why Poll People about the Great Lakes – Who Doesn’t Love the Great Lakes?

IJC staff
IJC
April 14, 2016
Water Matters - Kayaks along the shore of Lake Superior

Of course, it’s no secret that people love the Great Lakes. But finding out the particulars, like what issues people want to know more about, why they treasure the lakes and who’s responsible for their protection, is essential.

The IJC’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board recently completed one of the largest-ever opinion polls about the Great Lakes.

On Monday, April 18, we’re inviting the public to join us in Washington, D.C., for a talk about feelings. That is, how people that were surveyed feel about the Great Lakes, what in their opinion are the problems facing the waters, what to do about those issues, who is responsible, and what role people can play.

On Monday, April 18, the Board will host a public panel discussion on preliminary findings of the Binational Great Lakes Basin Poll. It’s at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 815 14th St. N.W., in Washington, D.C.

(See infographic)

Almost 4,000 basin residents were surveyed by Oraclepoll of Ontario, providing a valuable picture of how the public perceives the Great Lakes, including key environmental issues, threats and opportunities.

 Kayaking and boating in Lake Superior. Credit: Janet Beasley
Kayaking and boating in Lake Superior. Credit: Janet Beasley

Eighty-five percent of those polled believe protecting the Great Lakes is highly important, and 35 percent say all sectors of society should be responsible for addressing issues facing the lakes. Forty-six percent thought there are too few policies and regulations in place to protect the Great Lakes, compared to 7 percent who said there are too many. Sixteen percent said the amount of policies and regulations was just right and the rest, 31 percent, didn’t know.

The top issues identified include protecting the lakes for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and recreation. Threats identified include pollution and aquatic invasive species. The survey’s margin of error is 1.6 percent.

Some key findings to note: 78 percent of those surveyed said they feel an individual responsibility for protecting the health of the lakes, but 30 percent are unsure of what steps to take. Some believe they can take action by polluting less (24 percent) and conserving more (16 percent), as well as educating themselves more on relevant issues (12 percent) and engaging politically (10 percent).

The Board and IJC plan to use the poll to adjust and refine methods for educating the public about problems, potential solutions, and personal actions.

The poll results will be made available for other researchers to conduct further analysis of the data.

An example question from the poll[JK3] , of residents living in the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario.
An example question from the poll, of residents living in the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario.

Thanks to all of those who participated in the poll. Join us if you’re in the D.C. area for the April 18 panel discussion.

And stay tuned to our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll post updates from the panel discussion and board appearances.  

A great blue heron. Credit: USFWS/Rebecca Mitchell
A great blue heron. Credit: USFWS/Rebecca Mitchell
IJC staff
IJC