The Community of Member-Based Nature Parks: An Integration of Spatial, Socio-Demographic, and Interview Data




McNiel, Jamie Nichole

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In the last several decades, member-based nature centers have been established to provide both community orientation to nature and education services; often times with the goal of promoting nature conservancy and growth and to provide outdoor benefits to urban communities. Most nature centers allow visitors to participate in outdoor recreation and nature experience by either paying an annual amount to become members or a daily entrance fee. However, little research has focused on this aspect of outdoor leisure and use from a park use and leisure research perspective. This research provides empirical findings related to outdoor leisure research, nature center users, and a new form of environmental inequality as it relates to benefits. Findings also present how members socially construct nature, and how those social constructions relate to their tangible relationship with the environment as nature center participants. Additional discussion highlights the larger picture given by integrating spatial, socio-demographic, and interview data. Concluding remarks note the implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research.



nature centers, leisure constraints, environmental sociology, environmental inequality, critical realism


McNiel, J. N. (2011). The community of member-based nature parks: An integration of spatial, socio-demographic, and interview data (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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