Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Elizabeth D. Baldwin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brett Wright, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Baldwin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Teresa Tucker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fran Mainella, Visiting Scholar

Abstract

The integrity of Parks and Protected Areas (PPA) depends on management that acknowledges their position as part of the socio-cultural context and demonstrates awareness and attention to ethnic and racial dimensions of the communities adjacent to these areas. The Unites States National Park Service has dedicated resources and effort to determine ways to keep units in the national park service relevant in a changing world. The fastest growing and second largest demographic in the Unites States is the Latino or Hispanic population. Very little has been published about this rapidly growing population of Latin Americans residing in the United States and the values they assign to PPA, or specifically units of the National Park Service. This research explored values most appreciated by members of Hispanic communities (n=27) living adjacent to two units of the National Park Service in the Southeast region of the United States (Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument, FL and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN and NC). Findings indicate strong connections to the restorative components and experiences in these parks and protected areas when taken as a whole. A case study approach was used to build an in depth understanding of the relationships of the Hispanic residents (n=20) with the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument, FL, and compare these with the with the management perspectives from park staff interviews (24) with the purpose of providing a more holistic perspective of one park management system that has a high percentage of Hispanic park visitors annually. Findings identified key values of this community related to the important roles of parks for conservation and preservation of representative and unique cultural, historical, and natural components of the area, as well as values related to access to educational, recreational, restorative, and spiritual experiences. Park's professionals generally view Hispanic visitors as having high knowledge of history, but feel that language barriers limit opportunities for connecting through interpretation and education. Results from this study are useful for management to understand Hispanic stakeholders' valuation of their PPA as compared with staff views in an effort to design strategies that can target common areas between different cultural groups, reaching a wider audience. Understanding the appreciation of PPA as restorative environments may provide factors of appreciation independent of race or ethnicity and may allow management to improve services that facilitate restoration and use these topics to design communication and outreach strategies that can potentially increase relevance and political support for conservation for a diversity of users and stakeholders.

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