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Factors Associated with Non-visitation by Area Residents to Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Laura J. Lawton, David B. Weaver

Abstract


A symbiotic approach to park management holds that visitation offers benefi ts both to visitor and park (as through the beneficial activism), and hence should be encouraged. Accordingly, factors that constrain visitation to a park should be identifi ed and mitigated, especially as they apply to local residents whose daily behavior is likely to affect nearby protected areas. The issue of mutual resident/park benefi t is particularly important in strictly protected areas near large urban centers, yet no research to date has investigated resident constraints to visitation in such contexts. To address this gap, this study surveyed 455 adult residents of the Columbia (South Carolina) urban area and found after weighting the sample for the underrepresentation of African-Americans that over one-half had never visited nearby Congaree National Park. Non-visitors were more likely to be African-Americans, those whose household members had not previously visited the park, and those with household incomes exceeding $50,000. Hierarchical cluster analysis of non-visitors revealed a dominant group of “procrastinators” (52% of the sample) who claimed to be interested in visiting but had not found the time to do so. They were otherwise unconstrained. “Unawares” (28%), did not know about the park’s existence, while the remaining ‘multi-constrained’ (20%), were hampered by multiple intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural problems including poor health, lack of awareness, lack of companionship, and concerns about safety. Older residents, African-Americans, and those with lower incomes were disproportionately represented in the latter cluster. The “unawares” were signifi cantly younger and resident in the Columbia area for fewer years than members of the other clusters.

Keywords


Congaree National Park, national parks, visitation, constraints, rural-urban fringe

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