Environmental justice on the wilderness fringe : a GIS based analysis
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Using GIS this study examined the contiguous United States for the distribution of NWPS lands at the county level to determine socio-economic inequalities between residents proximate (versus distant) to wilderness areas. Socio-economic variables (per capita income, occupation, education, and race) for 1980, 1990, 2000, and changes from 1980-2000 in the counties adjacent to (within 1 mile buffer) were compared with counties distant to (outside 1 mile buffer) wilderness areas using U.S. Census bureau data. Results show that counties adjacent to wilderness in 1980, 1990 and 2000 were comprised of fewer blue-collar workers, more whites, and higher educated and richer people. However, this difference is beginning to narrow over time as counties adjacent to wilderness exhibited decreases in blue-collar occupations, decrease in education levels, decrease in the white population, and increase in per-capita income. Implications for land-use planning and decision models that involve mainstream environmentalists and social justice groups are discussed.