Social Science

As population growth continues, urban sprawl consumes more lands, and natural and cultural resources are exhausted, parks such as those in Coastal Southern California are becoming increasingly precious and rare. National Parks are mandated to protect the natural and cultural resources under their care while providing visitors with quality experiences. Unfortunately, parks are being confronted with complex socio-economic issues that affect how resources are maintained and conserved. Addressing these issues requires a broad-based understanding of the economies and social trends of human populations in and around park lands. Understanding the relationship between people and parks is critical for protecting these resources unimpaired for future generations.

Past Research
Limited social science research looking at the interplay between economics, sociology, geography, and politics has been conducted in Coastal Southern California national parks. Past research focused on:

  Cabrillo Channel Islands Santa Monica Mountains
Understanding visitor trends and demographics, as associated with specific park planning projects such as: tide pool management and visitation, trail management, access, shuttle system X   X
Visitor use statistics and geographic information that includes land use, jurisdictional, political, and natural and cultural resource data X    
Impacts of visitation on intertidal areas to determine the effects of trampling on resources X    
General attitudes of visitors towards wildlife and park management   X X
Visitor satisfaction   X  

Current Research
None

Research Opportunities
The National Park Service encourages exploration and social science research in Coastal Southern California national parks. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  Cabrillo Channel Islands Santa Monica Mountains
Understanding how an evolving American social structure affects park management efforts, particularly with respect to the changing social, ethnic, and demographic composition of California X X X
Studying the effects of the changing demographic composition of California in relation to demand for park-related services and political support X X X
Exploring strategic outreach possibilities to emerging publics X X X
Researching visitor capacity standards, including effective use of scientific information in choosing social or biological indicators of visitor capacity and understanding how variation in visitor use affects park resources and visitor experience quality X X X
Understanding the connections between people and nature by measuring the psychological and physical benefits of park lands X X X