Outdoor Recreation and Community Development in Rural California
An in-depth exploration of outdoor recreation in rural California.
In recent years, outdoor recreation has become a popular topic in rural community and economic development nationally. The trend magnifies a long-held recognition that outdoor recreation and “natural amenities” benefit rural communities both in terms of quality of life as well as economic activity. In California, the contemporary movement confounds many community leaders to define the opportunity and craft strategy at a local and regional scale. The challenge invites basic questions. Is the state paying sufficient attention to outdoor recreation impacts in rural communities? Can public and private resources catalyze community transformation in rural areas using outdoor recreation as a primary lever? To what extent can outdoor recreation strategy address the jarring economic and social disparities that plague rural California? Can outdoor recreation address basic structural gaps in rural institutional and community capacity? Why are some rural communities burdened by visitor impacts while others can’t jumpstart recreation-based economic activity?
The paper resulted in the following key findings, for which we offer recommendations in the final section of the report:
Published June 29, 2020
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A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the creation of nature-rich urban environments, including schoolyards with natural play spaces and gardens, can help improve physical and mental health, cognitive skills, creativity, and social bonding.
The phenomena of thru-hiking has been on a dramatic rise, spurring hikers to venture onto increasingly remote and challenging trails over extended periods of time. Despite the recent popularity of thru-hiking, the field remains relatively unstudied. In recreation, the expectations held beforehand have been linked to perceptions after an activity, but this has not been explored in thru-hiking.
This study evaluated pack weight to understand the limits of long-term load carriage. Participants were Appalachian Trail hikers who attempted to complete the entire trail in the 2012 season.