The Forest Service recognizes the importance of working with communities, other agencies and groups to support the interdependence of our lands and services with neighboring communities and society as a whole. The potential for land management to affect tourism, local economic sustainability, recreation, quality of life, public health, environmental justice, and urban connections creates a need to understand the relationships between resources and society.
Social benefits and quality of life
Recreation benefits communities and society as a whole and are important to the quality of life for many people. Social benefits and quality of life are given substance, value and meaning through the work of social scientists employing a range of theories and disciplines to assess how recreation contributes to the social and economic well-being of communities.
Health effects, active living and environmental justice concerns
The health benefit of outdoor recreation participation has encouraged research on active lifestyles, urban outdoor recreation and conservation education programs. Equity and environmental justice concerns arise from the ways in which recreation resources are provided — or not provided — to minorities and other groups that lack the power to affect change.
Co-management with partners, other agencies and special use groups
As the Forest Service works with other land management agencies, recreation providers and associated organizations, research is needed to understand what changes these partnerships may require in how business is done. Scientists are studying partnerships, volunteerism, and co-management and contracting services. Providing access to cultural heritage sites and to non-timber forest products often involve recreation issues, in which recreation researchers add their expertise.
Tourism and community economic sustainability
Decreasing dependence on forest products and development of strong tourism and recreation economies is a 21st century trend across the U.S. This changing mix of business opportunities and community development trends alter the role of federal forest lands in the community. Forest Service scientists are helping managers understand the impacts of economic cycles on tourism-dependent communities and the effects of changing land use and ownership patterns, amenity migration, and labor markets on recreation businesses and management.
Outdoor Recreation and the Economy
In 2012, outdoor recreationists made more than 938 million visits to Federal lands and waterways, spending $51 billion and supporting 880,000 jobs. The Outdoor Recreation: Jobs and Income factsheet is a summary of the recreation economy based on information gathered across the 7 Federal land and water management agencies that make up FICOR – The Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation. FICOR is part of the “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative.