“Government officials and environmental advocates agree that the racial disparity in the outdoors is an existential crisis.“
As millions of Americans escape home quarantine to the great outdoors this summer, they’ll venture into parks, campgrounds and forest lands that remain stubborn bastions of self-segregation.
“The outdoors and public lands suffer from the same systemic racism that the rest of our society does,” said Joel Pannell, associate director of the Sierra Club, which is leading an effort to boost diversity in the wilderness and access to natural spaces.
New government data, shared first with ABC News, shows the country’s premier outdoor spaces — the 419 national parks — remain overwhelmingly white. Just 23% of visitors to the parks were people of color, the National Park Service found in its most recent 10-year survey; 77% were white. Minorities make up 42% of the U.S. population.
“That tells me that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said David Vela, acting director of the National Park Service.
The career park administrator, appointed by President Donald Trump to the post in 2017, is the first Latino to lead the agency.