Issue Area

Outdoor Engagement

Overview

Outdoor engagement presents a unique opportunity to serve diverse constituencies because it provides mental and physical health benefits, supports economic development, and connects communities. Time spent outside has been shown to reduce stress, help treat ADHD in children, and ameliorate PTSD symptoms in veterans. However, there is increasing recognition that these benefits aren’t distributed equally, and states are working to ensure nature access is equitable and available for all communities. Outdoor recreation can also provide new economic opportunities for community development.

NCEL Point of Contact
Dylan McDowell

Deputy Director

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Key Facts

There is a growing body of research demonstrating the physical and mental benefits of outdoor recreation and time in nature.

The outdoor recreation economy consists of $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million American jobs.

Spending time outdoors can lead to reduced PTSD and stress, improved concentration, and promoting overall well-being.

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Resources

NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Infographics: Benefits of Nature

These infographics from the Children and Nature Network explain how time in nature can improve health and academic outcomes for children.

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Outdoor Recreation Economy Report - 2017

This report released by the Outdoor Industry Association accounts for outdoor recreation’s impacts on the economy.

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The Heat Is On

This report from The Trust for Public Lands outlines park disparities in communities of color and the impact of rising temperatures.

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2021 Conservation in the West Poll

Annual poll of western states regarding conservation, environment, energy, the role of the government, trade-offs with economies, and citizen priorities.

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The Nature Gap

This report examines disparities in nature access for different populations across the country.

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Rural Economic Development Toolkit

This interactive toolkit outlines opportunities to use outdoor recreation as an opportunity for sustainable economic and community development.

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