Perceptions of a Nearby Exurban Protected Area in South Carolina, United States
Weaver, David B. | Lawton, Laura J.
To address the dearth of literature on the relations between local residents in urban areas and nearby higher-order exurban protected areas, this study examined the perceptions of Columbia (South Carolina) residents toward Congaree National Park. Mail-out survey results from a random sample of 455 adult residents showed positive overall attitudes toward the park, although this did not extend to a desire to personally volunteer in park activities. Cluster analysis on the basis of seven perceptual statements produced three groups: “very enthusiastic park supporters” (VEPS), accounting for one fourth of the sample; “less enthusiastic park supporters” (LEPS), accounting for approximately one half of the sample; and “ambivalents” (AMBS), accounting for the rest. The AMBS tend to be younger than members of the other clusters and have higher income, but enthusiasm was more clearly related to high levels of interaction and awareness relative to the park. Managerial implications of the study are considered, including the need to encourage higher levels of park awareness and visitation, as well as more ecologically responsible behavior, among residents of the greater Columbia urban area.Show more [+] Less [-]