The State of the Great Outdoors: America's Parks, Public Lands, and Recreation Resources



Sept. 15, 2009


Margaret A. Walls, Sarah R. Darley, and Juha Siikamäki



Reading time

1 minute


Natural landscapes, parks, and open space provide a range of benefits to society that have been documented and quantified in a variety of studies. These public goods are provided, for the most part, by government, and policymakers need information and analyses to determine how much to provide, what types of lands should be protected, and how to go about protecting them. In this report, we provide some of this information by summarizing trends in outdoor recreation resources supply over the past quarter century, assessing and reviewing a variety of measures of the demand for outdoor recreation, and describing the complex landscape of funding and financing for outdoor resources.

Our review follows in the footsteps of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC), which published its highly influential report on the status of America’s outdoor resources in 1965; the 1983 Outdoor Resources Review Group; and the follow-on effort of the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors (PCAO) in 1987. It also serves as a companion to the policy recommendations report of the 2009 Outdoor Resources Review Group.


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