The future our our trails is questionable. NPR story and how it relates to MTBrs- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    The future our our trails is questionable. NPR story and how it relates to MTBrs

    Don't Care About Nation Parks? The Park Services Needs You To"

    Don't Care About National Parks? The Park Service Needs You To : NPR

    Darla Sidles, Saguaro National Park's superintendent, is not surprised by those responses. She knows better than most the disconnect that exists between a lot of locals here and the park next door. "The type of people that are coming to the park versus the people just five minutes away in Tucson is really an issue for us here," she says.




    The reason: The type of people who visit the park don't reflect the type of people living in the community. Tucson is about 44 percent Hispanic or Latino. Of the park's roughly 650,000 annual visitors, less than 2 percent self-identify as Hispanic. "If we're not being relevant to almost half of the population, then 30, 40, 50 years from now, the park isn't going to matter to them," Sidles says.


    A Call To Action
    The disconnect between Tucson's minority populations and Saguaro National Park is striking given their proximity, but it's hardly unique.
    The National Park Service overall has a diversity problem. There were a record 307.2 million visits to U.S. national parks in 2015, and it's fair to say that the majority of those visitors were white. The National Park Service doesn't track the demographics of its visitors, but the most recent survey commissioned by the Park Service to see how different population groups related to the parks found that 9 percent of American visitors were Hispanic. African-Americans accounted for 7 percent. Asian-Americans were 3 percent. Collectively, minorities made up just over 20 percent of the visitors to national parks, despite the fact that they made up nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population.
    My take on this is personal because I protect natural areas and my organizational funding will be negatively affected if less people care about parks and open spaces. As a MTBr this really scares me because our trails are in open spaces and parks. There is always talk about connecting with the next generation, particularly inner city folks who are less able to see these wonderful pieces of land that were set aside for all of us to enjoy, not just the wealthy. To get them interested in visiting such places and making a connection that they feel is worth fighting/fundraising for.

    I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the future of our parks (all types) and how the changing demographics will affect them. What can we do as a MTBing community to help with this disconnect? Do you even care?

  2. #2
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    I think recognition of the problem is a great first step. Then you look at various groups and find out why they aren't using parks. See if there are barriers, or perceived barriers that can be overcome. Identify and implement programs to make parks relevant to various groups.

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    Well, not allowing kids to ride bicycles off road in National Parks and elsewhere isn't helping, but first we gotta figure out how to get them interested in actually visiting parks.

    I know my connection to the outdoors started as a young kid with lots of camping trips, ski trips and touristy trips to see neat things. Lots. Later, in high school I was fortunate to be able to spend a couple different weeks at Yosemite Institute, which really made a lasting impression on me. That lead to working as a camp counselor for several Summers... and now a lifelong addiction(?) to spending as much time as possible playing outdoors... including "coaching" high school and middle school mt. biking now.

    I think the various programs the Department of Interior and other govt./local entities are doing to get kids outside, whether their parents can afford it or not, is a great first step. Climbing around on rocks, following trails, catching lizards... that all needs to happen before kids get too old and too cool for it.

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    I wonder if there is a similar diversity gap for County and State Parks. My own guess would be that it is not as bad, but it would only be a guess.

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    ^ Its anecdotal, but when I used to live near Joaquin Miller and Redwood Regional Parks, when pedaling through the various picnic areas on a weekend they always seemed packed, primarily by large groups of Latino's who had it goin' on! Music, games, tons of food.

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    I don't see a problem. Not everyone gets excited about being outdoors in nature. Nature is nature- you can't change it or put a spin on it to make it more appealing to people. Does society need to "educate" non-white folks and convince them that going to National Parks is fun? That is the worst kind of condescension- to assume that a person of color needs to be enlightened by "those in the know" because they have not experienced the parks.

    Half of my family is Hispanic and most of that half do not hike, bike, camp, visit National Parks, etc. To them, I am the "nutty" one who climbs rocks, mt bikes, hikes, camps, gets dirty, cold, hot, sweaty, mosquito bitten etc. Why isn't there a "Call to Action" to get these crazy white folks out of the hills and back indoors like civilized folks? Think about it.

    I would bet that as US demographics change, there will not be a concurrent drop in National Park visitation. I think there will be ups and downs in visitation that have more to do with economics, trends in quantity of free time vs. work time, transportation issues etc. or simple competition from yet-to-be-invented diversions for people's leisure time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    ^ Its anecdotal, but when I used to live near Joaquin Miller and Redwood Regional Parks, when pedaling through the various picnic areas on a weekend they always seemed packed, primarily by large groups of Latino's who had it goin' on! Music, games, tons of food.
    The same goes for Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville. You should see it during Festival de la Isla! Even non-event weeks are packed with very large family events.

    It should come as no surprise that different user groups like to enjoy parks in different ways. The struggle will be trying to identify how parks can be used by all groups in a sustainable fashion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cragnshag View Post
    Half of my family is Hispanic and most of that half do not hike, bike, camp, visit National Parks, etc. To them, I am the "nutty" one who climbs rocks, mt bikes, hikes, camps, gets dirty, cold, hot, sweaty, mosquito bitten etc.
    Interestingly enough, I'm one of 7 (white) siblings. We all had a fairly similar upbringing. I'm the only one who REALLY likes doing all the fun outdoor things... they call me the "nutty" one. They prefer hotels, restaurants and luxury. I prefer a sleeping pad and sleeping bag, without a tent if conditions warrant :-)

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    The point isn't "get every race to love the wilderness/parks". The point is give everyone regardless of race or income the opportunity to love the wilderness/parks in a way that is sustainable and fits with their cultural norms when possible. More importantly, help educate everyone on why these places exist, why these places are protected and why they should care.

  10. #10
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    I think the point is.... if the predominant user of National Parks is no longer the predominant legislator, will protecting our National Park System (or designated Wilderness, perhaps) matter to decision makers in 30+ years from now?

  11. #11
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    I hear the same report and I was more impressed with the people that are getting involved that are coming from within the community. It has a lot to do with education which is seriously lacking in the minority communities when it comes to national parks. Getting a taste as a kid drives the desire to visit as an adult with your own children.

    It is a shame but nature has to battle with cable tv, ipads and other things that keep people on the couch. As a father I see these challenges in our little bubble in the Sierra foothills. What would have been a weekend outside is now a place where a block full of kids will not see sneakers, soccer balls, chalk and all that type of fun stuff. Before a recent move back to Folsom I was living a bit closer to Sac and my block was desolate on the weekends even though many houses had kids. They weren't out exploring they were inside sitting in front of a screen. I don't live that way and that is part of why we moved. Slack lines, mountain bikes, soccer balls, games of tag, making bows out of sticks, playing in the mud, getting out to the lake is what exists on my block and I am not the only parent that promotes that.

    "Some people are comfortable being uncomfortable" was something a good friend once said to me. The thought of sleeping in a tent with the "wild" just outside the zipper is not what some people see as fun... until they do it. Community outreach, education and maybe some incentive will hopefully bring the people out. If you don't show the youth they will never know. Do I see an easy solution? No. Accessibility is a huge factor and that is a large hurdle. It may take people like ourselves who appreciate the beauty of nature to bring that experience to the youth from many ethnicity. Give them a taste and let it flourish. It sucks but it all costs money and when you are thinking about putting food on the table and paying rent it is tough to contemplate park entry fees as part of it.

    The challenging thing about that report is that many national parks do not have these types of communities just around the corner so getting to the place is an event in itself. If you live in a city you may not need a car so how will you make that three hour drive to a national park? Out of the question. I don't know what the answer is, very challenging.

  12. #12
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    Edited down: Bulletpoint instead.

    *Change the fees, focus the marketing and advertising to cover changes, and involve the kids. It's not that hard to fix. Price out a family trip to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon. Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, etc and tell me it flat out, for a family of say 4, it doesn't approach the $3700 range these days. Hell, Disneyland for a week is around $5-6k for a family of 4 lately. THAT'S A STUPID WAY TO RUN IT.

    Make people WANT to go and make it work for them. Most Parks have forgotten this.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fgiraffe View Post
    I wonder if there is a similar diversity gap for County and State Parks. My own guess would be that it is not as bad, but it would only be a guess.
    Or it could be worse; this is from Coe park's Interpretive Master Plan published in 2014:



    This chart tells the underlying story (it's income; not ethnicity):



    (This data was gathered from a visitor survey which may have certain biases in the manner it was taken)

    But to the point of the OP's construct I think there is a valid concern in the end game of open spaces and bicycle access ad extremum "should we be trying to put men on Mars while we have the homeless freezing to death on the streets?"

    Priorities...
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

    Windows 10, destroying humanity one upgrade at a time.

  14. #14
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    It seems to me, that most of the budget for Narional parks is covered by the Feds, and the less people I run into in the park, the happier I am. It's a bit selfish, sorry. It's kind of like how people get their panties in a bunch about lack of voter turnout, where all I see, is that my vote counts more because I showed up to vote. I've been to 5 National Parks in the last 2 years, and it's been great! The only downside was a few 3-4 hour, periods of congestion during busy times. We just moved to a different, uncrowded area of that park for the next few hours. Continually Crowded parks would not be ideal for me. Everyone pays for it (the 54% that pay income tax in this country: opinionated Jab), I get all the benefits. Anyway, Mtbr is always fun, sorry to offend. Those graphs above, are cool.

  15. #15
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    I should add for the OP, I usually will vote for public park type funding. I vote against over inflated, public pension type financing.
    Last edited by hoolie; 03-17-2016 at 01:53 PM.

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