Wildfire Smoke May Upend Outdoor Recreation in the West
An op-ed written by Margaret Walls and Matthew Wibbenmeyer about their new research on wildfire smoke is published in The Hill.
In research we published last month, which focused on camping on public lands, we estimated that between 400,000 and 1.5 million people per year are camping in the western continental United States during days with wildfire smoke. That research also showed that people who made advance reservations to camp mostly continued with their plans despite the repercussions of bad air quality. The fact that many campers are willing to put up with poor conditions rather than forego a visit altogether reflects just how much people value their visits to public lands. Our research found that campers were the least responsive to smoke at the most popular — and hard to get into — sites.
Nevertheless, as wildfires continue to worsen, these findings may change.
Margaret A. Walls
Margaret Walls is a senior fellow at RFF. Her current research focuses on issues related to resilience and adaptation to extreme events, ecosystem services, and conservation, parks and public lands.
Working Paper — Aug 2, 2021
Wildfire, Smoke, and Outdoor Recreation in the Western United States
This working paper finds that campers on public lands experience at least 400,000 days of wildfire smoke each year—but while smoke may cause negative health impacts, relatively few people cancel their trips as a result of poor air quality.
Explainer — Sep 8, 2023
Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions 101
This explainer provides an overview of agriculture's contributions to US greenhouse gas emissions, detailing major emissions sources and technology options for emissions mitigation.
In Focus — Aug 30, 2023
In Focus: Carbon Emissions from Wildfire
This video shares insights about the record-breaking emissions from Canada’s wildfires and the implications for Canadian, US, and global emissions-reduction efforts, with RFF Fellow Matthew Wibbenmeyer.
Press Release — Aug 14, 2023
Western US Wildfire Smoke Costs $2.3 Billion per Year in Health Impacts and Lost Enjoyment
A new working paper, published by scholars at RFF and the University of Alaska Anchorage, finds that camping trips to public lands are worth $107 less on average if they are affected by wildfire smoke.