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New Poll: Voters of Color Overwhelmingly Support Public Lands

President Barack Obama at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in 2012. (The City Project)
President Barack Obama at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in 2012. (The City Project)
August 24, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Four in five voters of color support President Obama's efforts to protect public lands and want the next president to do the same, according to a new poll.

The poll of 900 African-American, Asian-American and Latino voters was commissioned by New America Media, in partnership with the Next 100 Coalition, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Seventy percent of poll respondents said they participate in outdoor activities, and 44 percent have visited national public lands in the past year.

Rue Mapp, founder and chief executive of the group Outdoor Afro, said the survey refutes the misconception that voters of color aren't visiting or concerned about public lands.

"It also fuels the work that I do to disrupt the perception that the African-American population (and) Latino populations are not engaged," she said.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will visit the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in the Central Valley today. It was created by the administration in 2012 to commemorate an icon in the fight for farmworker rights. The Next 100 Coalition wants Obama to issue a memorandum before his term ends requiring all federal lands be managed with diversity in mind.

Anthony Williams, special-projects director for pollster Bendixen and Amandi International, said 95 percent of respondents think it's important for children to be able to learn about their own cultural heritage at national parks and monuments.

"We hope that these results will really serve as ammunition to make sure that, from hiring practices to programming, right down to advertising and outreach efforts, everything takes into account communities that have historically been underrepresented," he said.

When people of color were asked what prevents them from visiting more national parks, they cited a lack of knowledge about them, and worries about distance and expense. Williams said the survey backs up activists' calls for greater outreach to communities of color.

The polling data is online at newamericamedia.org. A petition for Presidential Memorandum is at next100coalition.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA