Deliver Benefits to the Public

Health and public lands

Photo: A pond shows the reflection of its surrounding forest.
This pond is just one of many beautiful locations throughout Hoosier National Forest. Forest Service photo by Stacy Duke.

INDIANA—Last week, the Hoosier National Forest and Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital signed a partnership agreement that creates a “Health and Public Lands” pilot program.

This program aims to provide therapeutic, nature-based experiences for their community on national forests and grasslands.

This program is already planning to conduct six “wellness outings” that include guided nature experiences led by a medical professional. These outings will include walking trails at the Forest Service Hardin Ridge Recreation Area near Bloomington, Indiana, among others.

This partnership was developed with long-term goals of both organizations in mind. For the Forest Service, these goals include strengthening the communities we serve and connecting people to the outdoors. Through the program employees and volunteers from both organizations will learn new skills and expand their sets of tools that help to connect people with the health and wellness benefits of the great outdoors.

“IU Health recognizes the importance of National Forest System lands to provide inspiring settings to achieve personal health-related goals and enhance an individual's sense of purpose during recovery and/or treatment,” the Hoosier National Forest said in a news release.  

“With the program, physicians can recommend wellness outings to patients who would benefit from outdoor experiences, including those with a mental health diagnosis, chronic disease, physical disabilities, those recovering from surgery and at-risk youth.”

Hoosier National Forest, which has public lands throughout Indiana, is a great resource for such outings and services.


Photo: A trail winds through autumn forest. Colorful leaves cover the ground.
This trail is one of many that Hoosier National Forest plays home to. Forest Service photo by Stacy Duke.