On October 27th, the CURes team presented to the Board of the Baldwin Hills Land Conservancy on the final results and recommendations from the Baldwin Hills Parklands user survey that was completed in August. In addition to a 90-page research report, CURes developed promotional materials for easy distribution to residents and other stakeholders. Board members expressed enthusiasm about the in-depth findings and their value to inform future park planning and management efforts.
The project was a social survey comprised of a pilot season and four subsequent data collection seasons over the course of two years. The user survey focused on respondents’ frequency of use, demographics, park activities, park accessibility, and environmental awareness.
The survey was distributed at 9 locations throughout the Parklands. A total of 1,747 surveys were compiled and analyzed by 38 CURes undergraduate research assistants (RAs) over the course of 1,934 hours. While distributing the survey, the RAs would also perform user counts by tallying the number of individuals they saw over a 15-minute period. Through this work, 12,709 visitors were counted.
The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area were the most visited parks. All of the parks were busier on the weekends based upon the user counts. According to the user survey, 38% of visitors go to the Parklands more than once per week. However, they tend to only visit one park in the system – 46% of respondents never go to a park other than the one at which they were surveyed. This may be due to users visiting the park closest to where they live. Users prefer visiting the Parklands in the morning (27%) or the afternoon (26%).
Eighty four percent of respondents use a car, SUV, or truck to get to the Parklands. However, 41% of users would prefer to walk or bike to the parks. Increasing accessibility for these methods of transportation is important to future park planning. Additionally, 90% of respondents were unaware of the free park shuttle, but 52% would like to use this service, indicating that more outreach about the shuttle is warranted.
In terms of park activities, 77% of users go to the Parklands to use the walking trails, roads, stairs, or ramps. Forty eight percent go to the parks to enjoy nature. This indicates that there is a mix of active and passive users. The population using the Parklands is also civically minded – 37% would be interested in volunteering. Additionally, 30% of visitors use the dog parks, however, clearer distinction between dog friendly areas and those not allowing dogs may be useful, as some users responded not enjoying the presence of dogs in the Parklands.
The respondent population is most interested in learning more about human health and the environment (29%) or wildlife (24%). They would like to do so through educational signs (48%), formal education opportunities (26%), and informal activities (22%).
The Baldwin Hills Parklands serve a large population of Los Angeles. Most respondents reported a zip code outside the one-mile radius of the parks (visualized in heat map). Sixty eight percent of users identify as Hispanic or Latinx. In terms of racial identity, the largest populations are White (37%) and Black (32%). This demographic information is at odds with the information from the census blocks immediately surrounding the Parklands; one would have expected higher percentages of Latinx and Black users. Outreach could be expanded to encourage these populations to visit the Parklands. The average Parklands user is female, 35 years old, no kids, earns less than $80,000 annually, rents their home, and has a higher education. Ninety seven percent of users speak English and 30% speak Spanish; therefore, having bilingual signage is important.
The study period also included a game camera survey, a place attachment survey, and an urban tree canopy assessment. The game camera survey was an experimental technique to determine if this technology can be used for human studies. It confirmed that Parkland users are fairly active (64% of images contained someone doing a physical activity). The place attachment survey (done only in the first survey season) indicates that frequent users, those willing to volunteer, and homeowners are more attached to the Parklands. Finally, the tree canopy assessment shows that there are some areas of the Parklands that could have additional canopy, which is important information for future park planning.
CURes would like to thank the Baldwin Hills Land Conservancy for their support and funding of this project, the RAs that made this work possible, and all of the Parklands users for their time and willingness to contribute to the research.