Publication in: Fall 2023 Issue

Evaluating Inclusivity and Access to Outdoor Recreation in Western North Carolina and Exploring Equity in Trail Maintenance Volunteer Work
Felipe Ahumada
Author Email:
Office of Sustainability & McCullough Institute
Faculty Mentor(s):
Jonathan Brown
Casey King
Abstract / Summary:
The Outdoor Recreation industry in Western North Carolina is one of the main drivers of the economy, supporting over 37,000 jobs and bringing in just under 4 billion dollars each year. The problem with a city whose economy is based around tourism and outdoor recreation is that the economy of such cities is designed to work around those who have the time and money to spend. When it comes to outdoor spaces, getting to places where outdoor activities take place is non-issue for those vacationing. The problem with a city revolving around tourism is that it mostly forgets about those who reside in it. This leaves those who are in already vulnerable positions out. With most of the vulnerable communities being left out to the point where some people have never even tried outdoor recreation. In this paper, we look to find the main reasons keeping the more marginal communities away from outdoor recreation and how to integrate them. This is done through a literature review as well as a community survey which was answered throughout the course of the summer of 2023, receiving a total of 157 responses. The data collected is later analyzed and tabulated to help better understand what are the barriers to entry for outdoor recreational spaces. When it comes to outdoor recreation, there are both perceived and natural barriers to entry. With outdoor recreation being such a large source of income for the city and county, it gives the perceived idea that it is a pastime for the more affluent kind. This along with separation issues and mismanagement of public areas has made it very hard for certain communities to have access to outdoor spaces.
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