By Rob Lovitt
The National Park system is often called “America’s Best Idea,” but according to a new report, it remains more like terra incognita for many people of color.
Released Wednesday, “The National Park System Comprehensive Survey of the American Public,” conducted by the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming, is a follow-up to a much-cited report on race/ethnicity among park visitors conducted in 2000.
Taken together, the two surveys show that while the American public has grown increasingly diverse in the last decade, black and Hispanic-Americans remain underrepresented in visits to the 394 National Park Service (NPS) properties.
“Despite efforts by the National Park Service and its partners to engage underserved populations,” wrote the researchers, “visitation differences by race/ethnic group seem not to have changed much over the past decade.”
Conducted by telephone in 2009, the survey queried 4,103 respondents across the U.S. The results showed that non-Hispanic whites comprised 78 percent of park visitors in 2008-2009. By comparison, Hispanics accounted for 9 percent of visitors, while African-Americans were 7 percent of visitors.
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