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    Author(s): John Kirkland; Eric WhiteJeffrey Kline
    Date: 2018
    Source: Science Findings 208. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.0 MB)


    Millions of people head to federal lands every year for recreation—891 million visits in 2016 alone. These visits have significant economic implications, not only for restaurants, resorts, outfitters, and other businesses near recreation sites, but also for the people actually participating in outdoor recreation.

    Scientists Eric White and Jeff Kline, both with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, worked with colleagues to summarize results from more than 400 studies that measure the economic value that people hold for recreation opportunities. The information shows that the economic importance of national forests and other public lands for recreation is substantial.

    Forest Service scientists predict steady growth in outdoor recreation over the next decade and beyond as incomes rise and the population of the United States grows. That’s good economic news, but it also means that more people will be competing for campsites, parking spaces at trailheads, and prime fishing spots. Crowding may make these special places less appealing, while overuse can lead to ecological damage.

    The work by White, Kline, and their colleagues quantifies the value of recreation, not just through monetary transactions, but in terms of the economic value of outdoor recreation enjoyment. This information is helping forest managers as they manage public lands for multiple uses.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Kirkland, John; White, Eric; Kline, Jeffrey. 2018. How much fun? Evaluating economic implications of recreation in national forests. Science Findings 208. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Recreation, trends, economics, jobs, nonmarket valuation.

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