PRESS RELEASE: NAM National Public Lands Registered Voter Study

PRESS RELEASE: NAM National Public Lands Registered Voter Study

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August 23, 2016
Honora Montano ( 415-503-4170 x129
Odette Keeley ( 415-503-4170 x121

NAM National Public Lands Registered Voter Study
Survey of African-American, Asian and Hispanic Registered Voters in the United States

SAN FRANCISCO – Four out of five voters of color approve of President Obama’s commitment to protecting national public lands and believe it is important for the next president to continue showing that commitment, a new first of its kind poll commissioned by New America Media reveals. Virtually all voters of color view these lands – national parks, forests, historic sites, open spaces – as a national treasure supported by public tax dollars.

The findings challenge a widespread perception that communities of color are not interested in national public lands, a perception based on studies reporting that people of color have lower rates of engagement in outdoor activities than white Americans.

The survey finds otherwise. Conducted by Bendixen & Amandi of 900 Asian Pacific American (API), African American and Latino voters, in English and Spanish, it finds some 70% of voters of color regularly engage in outdoor activities – a level consistent across all ethnic groups surveyed. And 57% have visited national public lands in the past. Asked why more people of color don’t frequent public lands, respondents said the biggest barrier is lack of knowledge – people don’t know where the lands are, how to access them or how much visiting will cost.

As Americans celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, the poll underscores the importance of the nation’s increasingly diverse communities of color sharing a sense of collective stewardship for the country’s national public lands. Poll respondents affirm that engagement among communities of color would grow dramatically with more targeted outreach and education efforts to under-represented groups. By large majorities, they support more urban parks, more historical and cultural programming, more recruitment and hiring diversity, and more focus on the contributions of communities of color.

Echoing the poll’s findings, a coalition of civil rights, environmental justice, conservation and community organizations – called the Next 100 Coalition – is advocating for a more inclusive and diverse approach by federal lands management agencies over the next century. They have asked the White House to issue a Presidential Memorandum with recommendations to that effect.

“Our public lands are facing many challenges, from climate change to insufficient funds to political pressures to sell off the parks,” says Coalition member Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro. “Unless we create the broadest base of public support that includes all Americans, we risk losing the vision that these lands belong to all of us.”