Recreation by the Numbers: Federal Visitation and Economic Data

Recreation by the Numbers: Federal Visitation and Economic Data

America’s public lands and waters are some of our nation’s most treasured places. Together, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service generated about $375 million via entrance, camping and other fees alone – through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) – on some one billion visits in 2016. And that’s not even taking into account the nation’s largest provider of recreation on public lands and waters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How are recreation visits and the associated economic impacts of those visits calculated? The numbers and dollars are key to public land managers and decision makers. To help answer this question, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis held a panel discussion September 11 describing recent efforts related to federal recreation data. Panelists discussed how visitation data to federal lands is collected and evaluated, efforts to develop new statistics on the contribution of the outdoor recreation industry to the national economy, as well as the Recreation Information Database (RIDB) and its potential uses.

Watch the panel discussion here. For more information on federal lands and waters' impact through FLREA, click here.