239372 Examining the spatial distribution of physically active recreation pursuits on the National Forest System

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Donald B. K. English, PhD , NVUM Program Manager, US Forest Service- RHVR, Washington, DC
Kristen Nelson, MS , Interpretive Services and Tourism Program Manager, US Forest Services - RHVR, Washington, DC
James Bedwell , Director, Recreation and Volunteer Services, US Forest Service, Washington, DC
Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH , Division Chief, Orthopaedic Trauma, University of Florida, College of Medicine - Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
INTRODUCTION: The United States Forest Service is one of the largest providers of outdoor recreation and connection to nature opportunities on its lands, trails, roads, and facilities. Physically active recreation pursuits such as skiing, hiking, and biking account for over 50% the visits to National Forest System lands. To evaluate the link between proximity to National Forest Service lands and physical activity, this paper examines: (1) whether those who live closer to NFS lands receive greater health benefits from active recreation; (2) the spatial distribution of origins with the greatest levels of physically active pursuits.

METHODS: A retrospective review of the National Visitor Use Monitoring program data was performed on more than 100,000 individuals on recreation visits to National Forests from 2005 2009. Data examined included the nature of their primary activity, visit duration, home location, and annual visitation patterns.

RESULTS: People living near to Forest Service lands demonstrate a trend toward higher percentages of visits with physically active pursuits. As well, people from these areas tend to have both a higher proportion of the population who visits, and higher mean number of visits per year for those who visit for physically active pursuits.

CONCLUSION: Our results document the link between proximity to NFS recreation opportunities and usage rates of those opportunities, measured both in proportion of the population visiting and mean visits per year. Moreover, we demonstrate that proximity is closely linked to the likelihood of engaging in physically demanding activities.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the link between proximity to NFS recreation opportunities and usage rates of those opportunities, measured both in proportion of the population visiting and mean visits per year.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because in addition to being a physician, I have served as the Special Assistant to the Director of the National Park Service, advising on matters relating to the use of public lands and its impact on individual health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.