Today's Forests Lack Color

Jostnix jostnix at
Sun Dec 7 07:43:23 EST 1997

dennis g garcia <dengar at> writes:

    For years I had been puzzled by how few people of color use the

>national forests.  I initially believed this was due to the low number
>people of color employed by the USDA Forest Service.

Great Post!

There are more people of color now employed by the USFS than ever.  An
African-American is  Alabama's National Forest Headquaters which supervises
four or five well as several other supervisory and professional

The Alabama Forestry Commission has an African-American regional forester
(there are four) and supervises over one quarter of the agencies workforce.

>I have concluded that people in communities of
 color, particularly the
>African-American community, know little about
 national forest system lands,
>and virtually none of them realize that
 these are public lands--their public

This is an enigma and I've noticed the same thing.  However, the local golf
course is a testiment that more and more ethnic minorities are using the
out-of-doors - but they are not tramping off to the-back-woods.

"Who owns the national forests?"
 Each year
>I receive the same answers: "the government," "Smokey Bear,"
 etc.  These
>answers are deeply disappointing.  Generally, to this
 audience, the forest
>is just that, "the forest."  They know little
 about the differences between
>federal, state, private, and industry

I talk with school kids and this ignorance is not limited to any one ethnic

>    My second
>opinion: the prevailing myth, which maintains that lack
 of transportation,
>equipment, leisure time, and money are the primary
 factors for the lack of
>national forest use by communities of color,
 is just that--a myth, one
>grounded in ignorance and racial bias.

You may be correct but I do think there is a cultural factor here.  Black kids
in middle class families tend to do things the middle class system provides. 
Scouting, camping, hunting, leasure time spent in the woods.  These kids become
Eagle Scouts and canoe guides and US Park Service lecturers only when their
background says its OK, or they see through the haze of "community

    The July issue of the NAACP's
>"Crisis" magazine reported that
 dozens of African-American organizations
>spend, in total nearly S210
 million in the cities hosting their national
>conventions.  The article
 also estimated that the African-American community
>spends more that S4
 billion annually on travel and lodging.  Nike, Adidas,
>and other
 industrial giants compete for dollars in communities of color

This certainly makes a case for disinterest in forests and forestry by certain

> we at the Forest Service should
 increase the
>marketing of our product, services, and economic
 resources in communities of

...but should the USFS obligate themselves to missionary work to bring people
into the woods based on the color of their skin.  Are you suggesting this be a
major push using significant dollars from S&PF?

>  So it's obvious--to me,
 anyway--that there are
>sufficient funds for state and national forest
> efforts in urban forestry.

I see much more of a need for outreach to minority landowners who desperately
need silvicultural and marketing advice....IMHO Thats the place for S&PF..

Steve Nix

``````) (_________John Stephen Nix
"Everybodys ignorant 'cept on different things"  Will Rogers
Alabama Forestry Link...

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