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“Provide It … But Will They Come?”: A Look at African American and Hispanic Visits to Federal Recreation Areas

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Recent data from the US Forest Service's onsite National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey (National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey, 2004. Unpublished demographic results for 2002–2003. Data on file with Donald English, Program Manager, Visitor Use Monitoring Project, Washington, DC) shows that visits made by African Americans account for very low percentages of visits to national forests across the country. This is true even in the South, a region where African Americans are highly concentrated. In contrast, Hispanic visits to national forests in the Southwest are high, relative to their population proportion. We examine additional national level household data on awareness of federal lands and management to help understand the discrepancy between Hispanic and African American recreational use of federal lands. We hypothesized that awareness, knowledge of management objectives, and attitudes about fees would reduce African American/Hispanic visitation differences; but strong differences remained after accounting for these factors. Results suggest other factors such as private landownership, and social definitions of place may be useful in considering African American use of wildland public recreation areas in the South.
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Keywords: federal lands; forest recreation; minority visitation; national forests

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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