PRESS RELEASE: National Survey of Voters of Color Reveals Deep Support for and Interest in America’s National Parks and Other Public Lands
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Four out of five voters of color approve of President Obama’s commitment to protecting national public lands, a new poll reveals, and believe it’s important for the next president to continue improving access to America’s most treasured places for people of all cultures and backgrounds.
The poll – commissioned by New America Media and released in partnership with the Next 100 Coalition – surveyed 900 African American, Latino and Asian Pacific American voters nationwide (margin of error of +/- 3.3%). The release of the poll coincides with the August 25th centennial anniversary of the National Park Service – which oversees places like Yosemite, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone.
“We found interest in the outdoors to be strong among voters of color, with 70 percent participating in outdoor activities commonly offered on public lands,” said Anthony Williams, Special Projects Director, Bendixen & Amandi International, which conducted the poll. “In addition, 57 percent of voters surveyed have visited national public lands.”
These findings challenge a perception that communities of color are uninterested in national public lands, a misconception rooted in studies reporting lower rates of engagement in outdoor activities than that of Caucasian Americans.
Echoing the poll’s findings, the Next 100 Coalition – a collection of 30+ civil rights, environmental justice, community and conservation organizations – is advocating for a more inclusive and diverse approach by federal land management agencies over the next century. They have asked the White House to issue a Presidential Memorandum with recommendations to that effect.
“This poll makes clear that we have the opportunity to grow and deepen the relationship between communities of color in America and our national parks and public lands,” said Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro and a Next 100 Coalition Member. “That’s why the Next 100 Coalition has called on the White House and land management agencies to bring greater diversity to the workforce, sites and stories told in public lands. These places have recreational, cultural, economic and spiritual value that communities of color should have every opportunity to benefit from.”
Asked why more people of color don’t frequent public lands, respondents to the poll 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.
“Our public lands are facing many challenges, from climate change to insufficient funds to political pressures to underfund and sell off parks,” said Dr. Xavier Morales, Executive Director of the Praxis Project and Next 100 Coalition Member. “Unless we create a broad base of public support, we put at risk the public lands that belong to all of us.”
Poll respondents affirm that engagement among communities of color would grow dramatically with more targeted outreach and education efforts to underrepresented groups, underscoring the importance of diverse and collective stewardship for the country’s national public lands. These findings are particularly significant given the changing demographics in the United States. The Census Bureau predicts that by 2043, a majority of residents will be people of color. By 2020, half of youth in America will be of color.
“We found that people of color support by large majorities more urban parks, more historical and cultural programming, enhanced recruitment and hiring diversity, and increased focus on the contributions of communities of color in the sites protected by the U.S. Congress and the President,” said Sandy Close, Executive Director, New America Media.
The poll also revealed overwhelming approval by voters of color for improved access and more culturally diverse offerings when it comes to public lands. Four in 5 voters of color support the creation of new parks and monuments, especially those that tell the story of underserved communities, and 95 percent of respondents believe it is important for young people to see their cultures and histories reflected in America’s public lands.
“It’s critical that this President – and the next – protects America’s national public lands and honors our country’s diverse histories and heritages,” said Mark Masaoka, Policy Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and a member of the Next 100 Coalition. “That’s why we’ve called on President Obama to issue a Presidential Memorandum on this important issue.”
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About New America Media
New America Media is the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 3,000 ethnic news organizations. Over 57 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through 3000+ ethnic media outlets, the fastest growing sector of American journalism. Founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996, NAM is headquartered in California with offices in New York and Washington D.C., and partnerships with journalism schools to grow local associations of ethnic media. Learn more at http://newamericamedia.org/.
About the Next 100 Coalition
The Next 100 Coalition is a nationwide collaboration of civil rights, environmental justice, conservation and community organizations advocating for greater diversity and inclusion in our national public lands. The Next 100 Coalition has called on President Obama to direct federal land management agencies to be more inclusive in the sites protected, stories told, communities engaged, and people hired as stewards of our incredible system of national parks, forests, monuments and other national public lands. To learn more, visit http://next100coalition.org/.
About Bendixen & Amandi International
Bendixen & Amandi International is a full-service management and communications consulting firm headquartered in Miami, Florida specializing in qualitative and quantitative opinion research, media communications and general consulting. Clients have included The White House, United Nations, World Bank, Univision Communications, Knight Foundation, California Endowment and a wide variety of political and issue advocacy campaigns throughout the United States and around the world. Learn more at http://bendixenandamandi.com/.