A recent survey of 900 black, Latino, and Asian voters by the Next 100 Coalition and New American Media on National Parks revealed that about 70 percent of surveyors “participate in outdoor activities commonly associated with national parks, and close to 57 percent said they have visited national public lands.” While National Park employees are looking to increase this number, other surveys bring less positive results. "According to 2014 visitor data for the Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service, which includes New Mexico and Arizona, over 94 percent of the visitors were white, 4 percent Native American and just over 1 percent African-American. About 14 percent of the forest visitors also identified themselves as Hispanic.“
Many minority respondents have cited cost as a big determent, but were also surprised to hear how cheap it actually is to visit a national park. For Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro and a founding member of the Next 100 Coalition, the issue is deeper. According to Mapp, a lack of National Park land’s true history and low amounts of parks reflecting America’s diversity is to blame. Coupled with a lack of diversity in National Park hiring and you have an unwelcoming environment to minorities.
“Whose land really is it?” Mapp asked. “We can do a much better job about talking about the founding history of our public lands and how they have been taken.”