Enchanted Circle Trails: Final Survey Results

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Place: Taos County

Overview

In Taos, New Mexico, Hispanic residents and low-income residents are less likely to have used trails during the previous year, but those who have used trails during the previous year use them just as often as other (non-Hispanic) residents. Among low-income residents, those with a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of their house were 50 percent more likely to have used trails during the previous year.

Relevance

This study is relevant to those interested in differences in access to trails and pathways between Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents and low- and high-income residents, the implications for residents’ trail use and health, and different needs of different types of residents, particularly in a rural community.

This study had a particularly low response rate, despite intensive efforts to follow up with additional mailings. This makes it more difficult to detect statistically significant relationships in the data. It also is possible that the sample is biased, likely in the direction of representing more avid trail users. This may lead to an overstated share of residents who use trails, but is not likely to affect the differences measured between different groups of residents.

Location

This study is based in Taos County, New Mexico.

Trail Type

This study includes all trails and pathways in the county, including rugged mountain trails, paths in parks, sidewalks (not very common in the county), and informal social trails.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to collect public feedback from those who do and do not use trails in Taos County, New Mexico, to provide local leaders with reliable information to help them prioritize investments in trails to better serve all residents. There is a particularly strong interest in better understanding the needs of Hispanic, Native American, and low-income residents, who make up a large share of Taos County residents and who are historically underserved by trails and pathways.

This study was funded by the LOR Foundation.

Findings

  • A lack of access to parks or trails has a particularly significant effect on the lowest-income residents. Fifty percent of low-income residents who do not have a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of home have used trails in the previous year. Among low-income residents who do have a park or trail nearby, however, 91 percent had used trails in the previous year.
  • Hispanic respondents are about half as likely to use trails as non-Hispanic respondents (45% versus 87%), and low-income respondents are less likely than high-income respondents to use trails (49% versus 81%). But Hispanic respondents and low-income respondents who do use trails use them as frequently as other Taos-area residents.
  • Hispanic respondents and low-income respondents are much less likely to have trails and paths within an easy walking distance, and much less likely to have sidewalks or wide shoulders near their homes.

Methods

This study used a written survey distributed to a random sample of 3,000 Taos County residents, of which 265 were returned. Ninety-nine additional residents completed an open link online survey. The authors weighted the data to match American Community Survey estimates of age and ethnicity distribution for the county.

Citation

RRC Associates. 2016. Enchanted Circle Trails: Final Survey Results. Prepared for Taos Land Trust; Headwaters Economics. Boulder, CO: RRC Associates.