Nature Recreation Declining
Posted on February 6, 2008 Comments (4)
Photo looking north across Lake McDonald from my Village Inn balcony in Glacier National Park, by John Hunter.
The study examines data from the United States, Japan and Spain on everything from backpacking to duck hunting…that correlated a decline in visits to U.S. National Parks with an increase in television, video game and Internet use.
The decline in some nature use seems to be accelerating, such as U.S. state park and national forest visits, as well as fishing. Others show a more steady decline, such as U.S. and Japanese national park visits and U.S. Bureau of Public Lands visits. Most reliable long-term per capita visitation measures of nature recreation peaked between 1981 and 1991. They’ve declined about 1.2 percent per year since then, and have declined a total of between 18 percent and 25 percent.
Other research shows that the time children spend in nature — particularly the activities we looked at in this study – determines their environmental awareness as adults. We recently wrote a review paper looking at this phenomenon as well as at the effects of videophilia on childhood development. These effects are substantial and include obesity, attentional disorders, lack of socialization and poor academic performance.
I must say I am surprised by this. My visits to national parks have led me to believe the attendance was increasing but that seems to be wrong. The National Parks Service has a simple web tool to view visits to US national parks by year. Go visit great parks, here are some photos from my trips: Grand Teton National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.