Recent studies of the Forest Service’s National Visitor Use Monitoring data show a wide disparity in racial and ethnic use of national forests. For example (assuming a direct connection between the number of people who filled out forms and overall national forest visitation numbers), Blacks or African Americans, who make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 1 percent of national forest visits in 2010. Hispanics or Latinos, who make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for less than 7 percent.
Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Fort Collins, Colorado, are studying these numbers systematically—the first time a nationwide study has been done with these data. They hope that their research will help National Forest System staff to encourage different racial and ethnic groups to connect with public natural lands. By doing so, national forest managers will be transforming management practices and priorities to encourage wider use of natural lands by different racial and ethnic groups.