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Arizona voters' top environmental concerns include wildfires, air quality

Even before wildfires like the Pipeline Fire struck large swaths of Arizona, the state’s residents already had forest fires on their mind. 

Ninety-three percent of likely Arizona voters support “increasing spending and measures to prevent forest fires on state land,” according to an April survey conducted by the Center for the Future of Arizona. And 88% of likely voters support improving Arizona’s air quality, the latest consensus issue from the Arizona Voters’ Agenda.

“Arizonans really value the unique beauty and natural areas of Arizona, and they want to see those protected. And really the related item is that they understand that protecting our natural areas, our air land and water is very much correlated with the quality of life that we can enjoy,” said Sybil Francis, president and CEO of the Center.

To make the agenda, at least 50% of all respondents — that’s Republicans, Democrats, independents and non-affiliated voters — must indicate they strongly support the issue.

Francis said this year’s political candidates aren’t talking enough about wildfires and other environmental issues.

“I don't sense that we're hearing very much about this at all on the campaign trail and that we're hearing a lot more about hot button issues but fire really is top of mind for Arizona voters,” she said.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.