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    Author(s): Donald B.K. English; H. Ken Cordell; J. Michael Bowker
    Date: 1999
    Source: In: Cordell, H. Ken; Betz, Carter; Bowker, J.M. and others. 1999. Outdoor recreation in American life: a national assessment of demand and supply trends. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing: 433-440.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (91 KB)


    Outdoor recreation is complex and difficult to summarize fully. It includes a wide variety of activities and interests, ranging from canoeing to watching wildlife. Many outdoor activities often occur in a variety of settings. These settings may have different characteristics and thus provide different kinds of recreation experiences. Similarly, one setting often supports an array of activities, often at the same time. Having the opportunity to participate in a mix of activities and settings is important to people as they seek satisfying and varied recreation experiences. On any given day or recreation trip, a single individual or group may participate in a number of activities across more than one setting. A further complexity of outdoor recreation is that the meanings of and benefits from participating can be very different for different people who are doing the same activity in the same place at the same time. Differences in the benefits recreationists seek can translate into significant differences in their preferences for setting attributes, their perceptions of crowding or other conditions at the recreation site, their expectations about resource quality and service delivery, and their attitudes regarding management goals and methods. Different types of recreation users do share some of the same concerns about facilities and general perceptions about the quality of managed sites. However, research has indicated that segmenting user markets based on setting-specific preferences for recreation experiences, although difficult to do, may be a managerially useful way to understand recreation site users better. As a result of their differences in preferences, visitors to the same recreation site are likely to exhibit different reactions to management prescriptions or resource changes.

    Over and above the direct benefits participants get from their recreation experience, there is mounting evidence of indirect benefits of wild areas, scenic amenities, and recreation itself. There is an expanding definition of outdoor recreation participation and the scope of people who benefit from someone else’s participation. Beyond the direct benefits of actual participation, economists and other social scientists have identified benefits to persons other than the visitor when measuring the values of the natural resources that support recreation. It also recognized that visitors benefit not only at the time they are participating in recreation, but also before and sometimes long after their visit to a recreation area. In addition, maintaining the quality of [National Wilderness Preservation System-designated] wilderness and other undeveloped or unique natural or historic resources can provide benefits into the future for those who may make use of them. A growing class of beneficiaries of recreation, wildlife, and [National Wilderness Preservation System-designated] wilderness resources includes those who engage in sightseeing, wildlife viewing, nature study, or other activities in "virtual" settings.

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    English, Donald B.K.; Cordell, H. Ken; Bowker, J. Michael. 1999. Implications of this assessment. In: Cordell, H. Ken; Betz, Carter; Bowker, J.M. and others. 1999. Outdoor recreation in American life: a national assessment of demand and supply trends. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing: 433-440.


    outdoor recreation, benefits

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