"Provide it... but will they come?" a look at African American and Hispanic visits to Federal recreation areas
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 Unpublished demographic results for 2002–2003.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.