Outdoor recreation occurs in many settings, from wilderness to suburban and urban areas, at developed and undeveloped sites, in a wide variety of forms. Research seeks to understand the quantity and characteristics of recreation that occurs on public lands, and to support recreation management decisions.
The research assesses the preferences, expectations and experiences of recreation visitors. Results assist in monitoring how well the agency is achieving recreation objectives and how well managers are serving the public and specific sub-groups, such as children, minorities, urban residents, and disabled recreationists.
Recreation supply, demand and use
Meeting the needs of the American public efficiently and effectively requires information about recreation demand and supply. We need to determine where, when, and how much recreation is occurring across different landscapes. Research identifies recreation opportunities relative to where people live and more specifically, whether all people have access to recreation facilities and sites. This is particularly important when either resources or people are vulnerable, for example, where designated wilderness, or water resources, or underserved populations are involved.
Urban recreation connections: serving a diverse clientele
Public lands, especially urban adjacent lands, are essential to meeting the needs of urban populations. Research in this area puts emphasis on serving urban people and recognizing their specific needs, preferences and barriers to participation. It also aims to help managers communicate and interact successfully with people from diverse cultures whose use of resources and facilities may be unconventional.
Tools to measure and manage recreation capacity and performance
This research develops models and frameworks to assist the efficient management of recreation on public lands. Factors such as carrying capacity — how many people can use a trail before it feels crowded; valuation — how much is this recreation worth; and customer service and quality can be monitored to help managers determine how well they are serving the public.