A co-worker sent me a link that I found both fascinating but also disheartening.
Newswise.com did a write-up about a University of Illinois-Chicago study about outdoor recreation and support of conservation efforts.
The theme of the story showed that people who partake in “vigorous outdoor activities” such as hiking or backpacking tend to be, down the road a few years, more likely to financially support conservation efforts.
Conversely, those who didn’t were less likely. Sounds like a no-brainer. To appreciate the outdoors you have to go out and enjoy the outdoors and really learn what it’s all about.
But the bad news didn’t end there. As it turns out, according to Newswise, not all outdoor recreation is created equal. The study also showed that people who go into the outdoors as more casual tourists or go fishing don’t have any more inclination to support conservation efforts than anyone else.
This actually makes some sense. People who walk up to the rim of the Grand Canyon (without hiking down and back) or drive through Yellowstone aren’t engaging in “vigorous” outdoor activities. In terms of fishing, much of it is done on a bank, on a boat or from some other shoreline or river with easy access. So there goes the strenuous thing again.
Some might take issue with the study, because it defined support of conservation efforts as giving to four environmental groups: the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense. Judge for yourself on that subject.
But here’s another nugget: The demographic most likely to give is white, college-educated, higher income and over 35 years old. So, it’s somewhat small number of people promoting conservation that may be shrinking given the current economy, Newswise reported.
But here’s the scariest thing in the Newswise article: It mentioned a previous study these same researchers did in 2008 concerning outdoor recreation. In that study, it noted a steady drop in outdoor recreation dating back to the 1980s. At the same time, there was a rise in the usage of video games, Internet surfing and movie viewing.
What does this mean? From what I gather, appreciation of the outdoors starts young. If people don’t learn it early, they don’t care later when they’re adults.
So consider this little story: I was scrambling up a rocky hillside in the Quartz Mountains one fine fall day, reached the top and enjoyed the view. Then I looked down and saw spray-painted graffiti on the rock and crumpled beer cans all over the place. I’d like to see less of that.
I’ve heard friends gripe about their kids locked away for hours playing video games or being on the Internet. So try this: Instead of blowing big bucks on a new video game console or an iPhone for little Junior, spend a little cash on a couple of backpacks, a tent and some gear and take the young ones out on an outdoor adventure. Enjoy the quiet, the solace and the wildness of the outdoors. Repeat as necessary. You might raise a hiker, a climber or maybe just someone who thinks about the land long enough to want to take care of it.
Here’s the link to the Newswise article: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/557026/?sc=lwtr;xy=5025201
Any thoughts? Love to hear ‘em.