Document Type


Publication Title

International Journal of Wilderness

Publication Date







Issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion are becoming increasingly important to park and protected area managers. Recently, several Executive Orders have established policies and priorities for steering public lands to better serve the diversity of the US public. Certain groups, compared to the US population at large, are underrepresented as visitors to parks and protected areas in the US, including BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color), women, people with disabilities, veterans, people with lower socioeconomic status, and the elderly. This disparity in visitation may be even more pronounced in federally designated wilderness areas. We present a qualitative study focused on the relationships of traditionally underserved groups with Everglades National Park, specifically focusing on perceptions of wilderness character in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness. Findings illuminate both perceived benefits of wilderness, including positive mental health, ecosystem services, and a connection to unique aspects of wilderness character in the Everglades, as well as conflicted feelings about wilderness as a place that underemphasizes historic interactions of underrepresented communities with the landscape. We discuss management implications, particularly ways to focus protected area efforts to broaden the relevancy of wilderness lands and better serve diverse populations within local communities.


wilderness character; diversity; everglades; underserved populations


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