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Healing, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Great Outdoors at Home and Away – CNN

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Natural areas in the United States have long symbolized national heritage, protected valuable natural resources and provided areas of recreation and respite. But for whom?

Evidence shows that white populations disproportionately access public lands for outdoor recreation. The second National Park Service Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, carried out by the University of Wyoming and published in 2011, found that only about one in five visitors to a national park site is nonwhite, and only about one in 10 is Hispanic.

This lack of diversity in outdoor recreation extends to the leadership of the park system and the outdoor industry at large. “The outdoor sector is probably the most homogenous field that exists today,” said Angelou Ezeilo, founder and CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation.

As the population of the United States continues to rapidly diversify, experts say, the face of the outdoor community has predominantly stayed the same: male, white and wealthy. According to the 2011 national park survey, the demographic composition of visitors to public lands hasn’t changed since the previous survey in 2000. . . .

Green spaces bring numerous health benefits. Nancy Wells, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University, explained that experiences in nature can lead to decreased blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, assist with direct attention fatigue, and increase cognitive function. Nature might even buffer the impact of stress, Wells said. . . .

Read the full CNN story . . .

We agree. We support diversifying access to and support for public lands and waters. We work hand in hand with Next 100, GreenLatinos, indigenous people, and others to support monuments for all, Every Kid in a Park, and Transit to Trails, and more.

We also need green access in the neighborhoods where we live, learn, work, play, pray, and age. Soccer in the park, safe bike paths, and physical education in schools are just as important to provide the health benefits of the great outdoors on a daily basis. Occasional trips to far away mountains, beaches, and rivers are fun, healthy, and educational – and go hand in hand with diversity, inclusion, and green justice at home.

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