The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment
Clues from Recreation Trends
The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) is the latest of eight national telephone surveys focusing on public outdoor recreation and environmental attitudes. Initiated in 1960, when the U.S. Congress created the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, the first National Recreation Survey (NRS) was a four-season, in-the-home survey of outdoor recreation participation in the United States. Five additional NRS surveys were conducted before the expanded NSRE was initiated in 1994. The most recent rounds of the NSRE were conducted between summer 2005 and spring 2009 as a long-term data collection effort that actually began in 1999. The NSRE is conducted by the SRS research group led by pioneering scientist Ken Cordell in Athens, GA, with partners from the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee. The Athens group has been collecting data and producing reports about the recreation activities, environmental attitudes, and natural resource values of Americans since the 1980s. Findings from the most recent rounds of the NSRE showed that between 2000 and 2007, the total number of people in the United States who participated in one or more outdoor activities grew by 4.4 percent, from an estimated 208 to 217 million. “Nature-based” activities—those taking place in outdoor settings or directly involving elements of nature such as terrain, plants, wildlife, or water bodies—continued to grow. Prominent among growth activities were viewing and photographing natural scenery, flowers, trees, wildlife, birds, and fish.
Cordell, H.K. 2008. The latest on trends in nature-based outdoor recreation. Forest History Today. (Spring): 4–10.