Hunting, Fishing Giving Way To Observation, Outdoor Photography
June 21, 2012

Hunting, Fishing Giving Way To Observation, Outdoor Photography

Individuals living in the U.S. are becoming increasingly more likely to observe or photograph nature than they are to fish, hunt, or participate in other traditional outdoor activities, the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) claims in a recent study.

The research, which was prepared as part of the USDA Forest Service's 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment, demonstrated an overall upswing in terms of nature-based activity participation from 2000 to 2009, the organization said in a June 19 statement. They discovered that the ways in which modern-day Americans enjoy the great outdoors "differ noticeably" from the ways in which their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did so.

"Between 2000 and 2009, the number of people who participated in nature-based outdoor recreation grew by 7.1 percent and the number of activity days grew about 40 percent," author, lead researcher, SRS scientist and recreational trends expert  Ken Cordell and colleagues discovered in the study.

"Among types of nature-based recreation, motorized activities showed growth up to about 2005, but then ended up toward the end of the 2000-2009 decade at about the same level as in 2000," they added. "The trend in hunting, fishing, and backcountry activities remained relatively flat during this period. Various forms of skiing, including snowboarding, declined during this decade. The clear growth area was within the overall group of activities oriented toward viewing and photographing nature."

The study also discovered that, primarily due to anticipated population growth, the number of people involved in outdoor recreation activities are expected to grow through 2060. The activities that were atop the growth of a participating chart are developed skiing, other skiing, challenge activities, equestrian activities, and motorized water activities, while the activities with the lowest rate of participant growth are visiting primitive areas, motorized off-road activities, motorized snow activities, hunting, fishing, and floating water activities, they added.

Due to the continued importance of the use of public lands for such outdoor recreation activities, the authors of the study believe that their findings will have direct implications as to how these areas are managed going forward.

"Our research shows that not only are more Americans participating in outdoor recreation, the number of times they participated in many of the outdoor activities surveyed has grown," Cordell said in a statement. "Trends in nature-based and other outdoor recreation have far-reaching implications, especially for how we manage public lands."

"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," he added. "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."