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Individual Highlight

Latino Community Access to Urban Green Space

Photo of A Latino family enjoys a day at the park. Forest ServiceA Latino family enjoys a day at the park. Forest ServiceSnapshot : Addressing environmental justice in terms of access to urban green space for an immigrant community in Georgia

Principal Investigators(s) :
Johnson Gaither, Cassandra 
Research Location : Hall County, Georgia
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 135


Park access is considered an environmental justice issue because some research shows less park acreage available to minority and immigrant communities, compared with majority white communities. Most Latino settlement in Hall County, GA has occurred in working class, majority white neighborhoods; therefore, this research considers whether Latinos inherit park acreage.

This research examined Latino migration to Hall County, a new destination county in the Southeastern United States, where environmental equity was considered in terms of Latino communities—walking access to public and private parks in the county. This research estimates the number of parkland acres within walking distance of communities in 2000 that had significant Latino, White, and African-American populations.

Findings showed Latinos inherited little park acreage relative to amounts available in the county. Results suggest that Latinos must live in more integrated, middle- and upper income neighborhoods to access a greater number of parkland acres. Information from this study can be used to help inform park planning at the municipal and county levels, with a particular focus on improving access for the county's Latino populations.

Latino settlement is confined largely to two central-city (Gainesville, GA) census tracts where the amount of land that is available for park conversion is extremely limited. White settlement, on the other hand, extends to the outlying suburbs with more potentially convertible land. Possible strategies to address the relative lack of parkland in higher density Latino communities include converting land from existing uses—such as abandoned landfills, rail yards, or lines to park acreage�or the establishment of land sharing initiatives whereby neighborhood residents can use schoolyards or even cemeteries for recreation. The most effective strategies for increasing park acreage involve grassroots political engagement. The larger task, however, for city leaders and community organizers is to involve the affected citizenry in decisions about parkland conversion.

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