I have worked in the outdoor industry for the past 8 years. Along with this, I have spent my entire life in outdoor spaces. From an early age, I experienced the value of getting into the outdoors. Since having a family of my own I have seen the value in raising my children in the outdoors. Outdoor access has proven to be healthy and beneficial for humankind. Many studies have been done to show that outdoor recreation contributes to a healthier and happier lifestyle.1 Here I will show how we should act on this information to improve the ability for more Americans to get outdoors.
The Government should do whatever is in its citizens’ collective best interest. Government providing additional funding for outdoor access is in the citizens’ collective best interest. Thus, the government should provide additional funding for outdoor access.
As we consider the needs of a government to support the best interests of its citizens we need to look at the type of government and the responsibilities that follow. Our government is a republic. A republic government has a duty to appropriately do what is best for their constituents. As we consider the government in doing the best across the board there are many arguments that could be made as to what to consider what is considered the best interests of the citizens of the various governments. These issues could range from welfare, to protection, to corporate support, and more. This is an impact that affects all of us from the level of our local municipality up to our Federal Oversight.
As a nation, we hold in reverence those presidents that have been brave enough to stand up for the interests of the collective whole and do something. Millions of individuals visit Mt. Rushmore each year to pay their respects to the great art that is crafted but also to pay tribute to the men whose faces are upon that rock. Among these men is a pioneer in making outdoor access and protection a key aspect of his legacy. Teddy Roosevelt was one that saw the vision of protecting these great places that our country has to offer and making them available to more people.
Government plays key roles in supporting its constituents. Whether it is providing assistance for jobs, safety, and protection, or improved health, there are key roles that it should play. As tax paying citizens we want to see our financial contributions going to those things that will affect us and the generations that shall follow.
Why Allocate the Funds?
There are obviously a variety of expenditures that could be made. I’d like to show that a portion of these expenses should be for the increased access to outdoor recreation opportunities. By providing this the government is meeting the needs of the people. We see that by funding outdoor access availability there will be more opportunities for individuals to get outside. The general belief among the public, according to the annual Roper Starch Report, shows that outdoor recreation is the best way to be physically active.2 Of those within the research, 90% were aligned with this view.
If we, as a collective unity, view outdoor recreation as one of the leading ways to be physically active then shouldn’t we have more opportunities to do this? The benefits will ultimately outweigh the costs associated with funding such access. Outdoor access is ever being threatened for more commercial pursuits of oil, gas, coal, expansion, and more. These things are certainly a necessary evil to our society, but they are also a boom and bust enterprise. We could cite a number of examples of cities that are decimated from a boom and bust enterprise. However, cities that are built on the foundation of outdoor recreation are thriving economies through tourism. The numbers continue to show that people want to continually visit the outdoors. Just taking National Parks data into consideration, we see that visitor numbers rise every year.3
In addition to the need of increased access and funding, we see that supporting the outdoor industry can become a key revenue model for these governments. Outdoor Recreation is the fourth highest economic sector in America. It contributes over $800 billion to the US economy and generates $125 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.4
As we see, having outdoor access is key to the physical and economic health of our communities. There is a desire to get into the outdoors and experience these great places. With the financial prowess of the industry, we ought to support access before that revenue dries up. The more that access is available then the more people will utilize these resources and continue to contribute to their health and the overall health of the economy.
- S. de Vries, R.A. Verheij, P.P. Groenewegen, P. Spreeuwenberg Natural environments – healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1068/a35111
- Roper Starch Report: Outdoor Recreation In America 2000: Addressing Key Societal Concerns: http://www.funoutdoors.com/files/2000%20Executive%20Report.pdf