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Wilderness values in America: Does immigrant status or ethnicity matter?


J. Michael Bowker
John C. Bergstrom
H. Ken Cordell



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Southern Research Station


Society and Natural Resources 17: 611-628


Little is known about the values immigrant groups or U.S.-born racial and ethnic minorities attribute to wilderness. However, the views of these groups are important to wilderness preservation because of increasing diversity along ethnic, cultural, and racial lines in the United States. We examine the proposition that wilderness is a social construction (valued primarily by U.S.-born Whites) by comparing wilderness values for immigrants and U.S.-born minority respondents to Whites. Results from 10 wilderness value items show immigrants are significantly less likely to indicate on-site use value. Among U.S.-born racial/ethnic groups, Black respondents were least likely to indicate values associated with visitation and off-site use but as likely as Whites to indicate a value for continued existence of wilderness. U.S.-born Asians and Latinos were also less likely than Whites to indicate values relating to wilderness on-site use. Implcations of findings for wilderness as social construction are discussed.


Johnson, Cassandra Y.; Bowker, J. Michael; Bergstrom, John C.; Cordell, H. Ken. 2004. Wilderness values in America: Does immigrant status or ethnicity matter?. Society and Natural Resources 17: 611-628

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