The Adirondack Park is a recreational destination in Upstate New York with more than 12 million visitors to the Park every year. While public lands are owned by all, and should be a welcoming, safe, and inclusive space, racial and economic disparities affect visitors, visitation rates, as well as perceptions of inclusion and safety.
While the Park is open to the public (with hardly any visitor fees), the Adirondacks attract predominantly white, male visitors. Research has traced this disparity as far back as the 18th century, when slavery was a harsh reality within the area.
This structural inequality has persisted to this day, with racially-targeted incidents, such as racist graffiti, have occurred in the Adirondack park. One of these occurrences targeted a regular park visitor, a Black woman who lives near the area. This unacceptable treatment of visitors of color is a pattern, bringing the divide apparent in the 18th century present to today.
One of the organizations working to combat this is the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, a collective which is seeking to make changes in the diversity and inclusion of the park. They are continually promoting equity and inclusivity by offering diversity training programs and educational resources about race. In addition, they are working with other groups, such as the Adirondack Mountain Club, who are focusing their efforts on getting children more comfortable and excited about being outdoors, while also teaching about the importance of an inclusive park.
As Environmental Studies seniors at Skidmore College, we are conducting qualitative research to better understand the diversity of public perceptions and the factors that might affect the disparity in safety, visitation rates, and inclusivity for Park visitors. Further, our research hopes to provide recommendations as to how the Adirondack Park can become a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of ability level, age, race, ethnicity, and income.
Whether you frequent the Adirondack Park, have only visited a few times, or have just admired the mountains from afar, we hope you are willing to take our brief online survey so we can work towards creating a more inclusive park for everyone.
Thanks to our business partner Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company all respondents can be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a $50 gift card for outdoor gear.
Our survey can be found at www.tinyurl.com/ADKInclusivity
— Olivia Berson Lucy Janovitz and Andres Durante