Forest Service study takes big picture look at outdoor recreation trends
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Outdoor recreation in the U.S. is shifting toward more passive activities, with the biggest growth seen in areas like wildlife watching and photography, according to a new study published by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station.
Traditional activities, including hunting and fishing, were flat, while various forms of skiing, including snowboarding, declined during the 10-year study period from 2000 to 2009.
“Our research shows that, not only are more Americans participating in outdoor recreation, but the number of times they participated in many of the outdoor activities surveyed has grown,” said author and lead researcher Ken Cordell, considered an authority on recreational trends in the United States.
The Outdoor Recreation Trends and Futures study shows that Americans’ current choices for outdoor recreation differ noticeably from those made by previous generations of Americans. Because of the continued importance of public lands for outdoor recreation, study findings have direct implications for how these lands are managed in the future.
Cordell prepared the report as part of the 2010 Resources Planning Act Assessment, under federal laws requiring periodic analysis of conditions and trends related to renewable resources.
“Trends in nature-based and other outdoor recreation have far-reaching implications, especially for how we manage public lands,” said Cordell. “This report offers the only public agency-sponsored long range forecasting of recreation demand for the United States.”
The study showed a discernible growth in nature-based activities—those defined as taking place in natural settings or involving directly some element of nature –from 2000 to 2009.
Among types of nature-based recreation, motorized off-road and snow activities grew until about 2005, but ended the decade at about the same level as 2000.
In addition to describing trends in outdoor recreation in the United States, the report provides descriptions of outdoor recreation activities on public and private lands, with projections of participation out to 2060.
“The study shows that public lands continue to be highly important for the recreational opportunities they offer, with again, a growth in nature-based recreation, especially viewing, photographing, or otherwise appreciating nature,” said Cordell. “Continuous assessment and adaptions to the management of public lands is essential as changes emerge in the future. Orienting overnight and day-use sites on public lands to emphasize nature viewing, photography and study would seem to be an appropriate strategy.”
The full report is online at: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/40453.
Filed under: biking, camping, Colorado, fishing, hiking, public lands, recreation, Ski Resorts, skiing and riding Tagged: | hunting fishing, outdoor recreation, public lands, skiing, snowboarding, U.S. Forest Service, wildlife watching