The health benefits of being outdoors are widely known and public land agencies want to ensure that all populations have access to recreation opportunities. Lee Cerveny, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station and her colleagues partnered with Vive Northwest, an urban Latinx (Latino/Latina) outdoor networking group to conduct three focus groups in Portland, Oregon, among Latinx participants from multiple nationalities and generations. The focus groups explored the diversity of outdoor interests, desired sites and settings, barriers to accessing the outdoors, and strategies for overcoming these barriers.
Their research findings state: (1) Latinx forest visitors seek a wide range of active outdoor experiences in forests and public lands; (2) Latinx outdoor visitors from the Portland metro area sought a wide-range of experiences, including hiking, viewing waterfalls, relaxing, and visiting nature centers; when asked which new outdoor activities they wanted to try, the top items were: snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and mountaineering; (3) Most recreation areas used by Latinx outdoor visitors were developed areas close to major highways and easily accessible but participants identified a keen interest in exploring backcountry areas and camping in wilderness and dispersed areas; (4) Knowing where to go, or having site-specific information were the primary barriers to accessing the outdoors. (5) When deciding where to go, Latinx visitors relied on personal references and recommendations, and Spanish language signage would help them to evaluate which sites would be safe and appropriate for their families. In conclusion, recreation planners at the forest level may benefit from new information about current generations of Latinx forest users, their ideas about nature and the outdoors, and future activities. This information can be used to direct outreach and programming for public officials eager to reach out to underserved communities.