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Environmental Racism Changes in Use and Perception of Wilderness By Beth Darnell LAR 512 Recreational Dimensions in Natural Resource Management Randy Gimblett. Outline Background Changes in Users of Wilderness Changes in Perception of Conservation and Wilderness
Changes in Use and Perception of Wilderness
By Beth Darnell
Recreational Dimensions in Natural Resource Management
“Within the next three decades, demographers say, white Americans raised on the idea of spending summer vacations in national parks will give way to a new majority of Asians, Hispanics and African Americans. This emerging plurality may not possess the same affinity for exploring crown-jewel nature preserves like the Grand Canyon or historical sites that largely celebrate the feats of white males.”
National and Regional Project Results 2002
Nearly 70 percent (69.7%) of National Forest visitors are men. More than ninety percent (92.0%) are white. Visitations from specific minority groups are: Hispanic (3.7% of all visitors), Asian (1.6%), Native American (0.8%), African-American (0.7%) and Pacific Islanders (0.4%). Among age groups, the ones representing the greatest proportion of visitors were 31-40 years old (25.4%), 41-50 (24.5%). The 21-30 (11.2%) and 51-60 (11.7%) groups were about the same proportions. Children under the age of 16 accounted for 14.3% of visitors. Older Americans made up a much smaller proportion of visitors. Persons between the ages of 61 and 70 made-up about 7.5% of all visitors, and those over age 70 accounted for 2.9%.
Visitors categorized themselves into one of seven race/ethnicity categories.
Table 6. Race/ethnicity of Coronado NF recreation visitors
As with most conflict in recreation management, problems arise from opposing needs of different types of users
Myth: “Recreational overuse and abuse by non-traditional users, especially low-income people and people of color, consistently diminishes the biological diversity of urban wilderness”
(Hutchison in Hester, et.al.)
“Human presence in an area which is being managed for conservation has some impact on that environment, which usually can be construed as negative from the perspective of wildlife and vegetation management”
Are these activities typical of traditional or Non-Traditional Users?
How do we go about “pav(ing) the way toward discussion of the provision of equal opportunities for all types of users”?
Through more scientific and empirical approaches to determining impacts?
Changes in Concept of Wilderness and Environmental Preservation
“We assume that our perceptions of environmental problems and their solutions are the correct ones, based as they are on Western rational thought and scientific analysis. And we often present the preservation of wilderness as part of the solution toward a better planet under the presumption that we know what is to be preserved and how it is to be managed”
-Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, p 271
“The concept of wilderness as an area without people has influenced thought and policy throughout the development of the Western world”
(Pompa and Kaus)
“the customary land-use practices of Papago farmers on the Mexican side of the border contributed to the biodiversity for the oasis. In turn, the protection from land use of an oasis 54 km to the northwest, within the U.S. Organ Pipe National Monument, resulted in a decline in the species diversity over a 25-year period.”
Limits of Acceptible Change
“Wilderness runs the risk of being thought of as an elitist value and if we don’t collect more data on ethnic minorities and other non-users, we won’t know if wilderness is indeed an elitist notion or if it has broad support”
(Cook and Borrie)
“A shared perception of caring for the land can be emphasized in conservation policy and education. However, integrating this perception requires acknowledging the presence of humans in wilderness areas.”
(Pompa and Kaus)
“In America, alas, beauty has become something you drive to, and nature an either/or proposition – either you ruthlessly subjugate it … or you deify it, treat it as something holy and remote, a thing apart, as along the Appalachian Trail. Seldom would it occur to anyone on either side that people and nature could coexist to their mutual benefit.”
Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods. New York. Broadway Books 1998
Cook, Barbara and William Borrie. “Trends in Recreation Use and Management of Wilderness.”. International Journal of Wilderness. Vol 1 No 2 (Dec 1995)
Gomez-Pompa, Arturo and Andrea Kaus. “Taming the Wilderness Myth” BioScience Vol 42 No 4 (April 1992) pp 271-279
Hester, Randolph T. and Nova J. Blazej, Ian S. Moore. “Whose Wild? Resolving Cultural and Biological Diversity Conflicts In Urban Wilderness” Landscape Journal. Pp 145
Wilkinson, Todd. Parks Work to Attract Minorities” The Christiosn Science Monitor. (Feb.1, 1999) www.ABCNEWS.com