Friday, August 8, 2014

Outdoor Trends in the United States and Texas

Jarrett Morgan | | | |

Outdoor Trends in the United States and Texas

This next post will be a review in the trends of outdoor activities by Americans and Texans.  As you can guess, I am someone who enjoys being outdoors and would like to see an increased interest in outdoor activities.  Therefore, it is important that people remain outdoors and that children are raised to be outdoor enthusiasts.  See the entire report: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/planning/Texas-outdoor-recreation-plan.html

Good News for the Outdoors 

One of the most important findings is that the overall participation level of Americans in the outdoors is not declining.   The U.S. participation level in outdoor activities has increased from 1980 levels and has remained stable since the early 2000s (see a selected sample in Table 1).  Unfortunately, Texan outdoor participation is slightly lower than the national average. 

Table 1: Historical Percent of the Population Participating in Outdoor Activities
Activity
1980s
2000s
2009
Day Hiking
14.0%
32.4%
32.6%
Developed Hiking
17.0%
26.4%
24.1%
Primitive Camping
10.0%
15.9%
14.2%
Backpacking
5.0%
10.4%
9.8%
Canoeing/Kayaking
8.0%
11.5%
12.4%
Bicycling
32%
39.6%
39.2%
Sources: USFS

Declining Youth in the Outdoors 

In addition, the study found that outdoor participation decreases with age.  Children 6 to 12 have the highest participation rate at 62%, yet individual participation continues to decline to the point where adults 45 and older have a participation rate of 39%.  The three largest self-reported reasons for the youth's decline in outdoor participation are lack of time, lack of interest, and the impact of schoolwork.  If youth participation continues to decline at its current rate, future generations will end up completely ignoring the great outdoors.

Texas Outdoor Outreach Programs

Thankfully, at least here in Texas, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is providing outreach grants to increase children’s interest in nature.  The grants are being given to 22 organizations, providing services to nearly 12,500 participants, and totals $750,000.  The closest program to me is through the University of Texas at Brownsville, which will mentor 400 high school students in outdoor education and leadership.  Unfortunately, the grants provide benefits to a set number of participants without creating long-lasting programs.  Nevertheless, the grants are going to fine programs. I just wish they would be carried out year after year instead of once.  Check out the news report here for the full details here

Jarrett Morgan

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jarrett, interesting read. NM

    ReplyDelete