Rising temperatures reshape when and the way a lot individuals get outside on public lands

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from SJ & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University

Credit: Unsplash / CC0 Public Domain

As summer ends, millions of Americans put their sandals off, dry their kayaks, and wipe their skis in preparation for the upcoming recreational season. However, according to a new study by the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University, seasonal plans for hiking, biking, and skiing are likely to shift with the changing climate in the coming years.

Rising temperatures are likely to result in fewer people participating in outdoor recreational activities in the summer as it gets uncomfortably hot, according to the study. Outdoor recreation is expected to decline by 18 percent in the warmer seasons over the next 30 years. However, climate change is likely to be a boon to winter recreation as the cold temperatures are moderate in some regions. Outdoor winter recreation on public land is expected to increase by 12 percent by mid-century, the authors said, but that recreation could look different. Once dominant sports like skiing are likely to be replaced by forms of recreation that are less dependent on perfect winter conditions – for example, less skiing and more mountain biking in winter.

“We have known for some time that the patterns for outdoor recreation and public space visits are temperature sensitive,” said lead author Emily Wilkins. “What is most important about this study is that it shows how different the effects of climate change on visiting public land are across the country – there are significant differences between talking about outdoor recreation in Oregon or Florida.”

The study used geotagged social media data from across the United States for 14 years to document where and when people went outside to visit public land. Trends were combined with climate data to map regional differences in the sensitivity of outdoor recreational activities on public land to temperature increases. The research team documented areas of the country where the greatest changes are expected. For example, summer visits to public land in the southeastern US are expected to decrease by over 50 percent by 2050, significantly more than in the rest of the country. Similarly, outdoor winter recreation is likely to increase the most in Texas, Oklahoma, and the upper Midwest.

“It is important for public land managers such as the National Park Service and the US Forest Service to have a good understanding of what future demand for outdoor recreation will look like,” said Jordan Smith, director of the Institute for Outdoor Recreation and tourism. “With this information, they can make more informed decisions about where to invest the time and effort, either to build new outdoor recreational infrastructure such as hiking trails and visitor centers, or to maintain the existing infrastructure.”

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More information:
Emily J. Wilkins et al., Climate Change and the Demand for Recreational Ecosystems on Public Land in the Continental United States, Global Environmental Change (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.gloenvcha.2021.102365

Provided by SJ & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University

Quote: Rising temperatures change when and how many people go outside on public land (2021, September 15), accessed on September 15, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-09- Temperatures-reshape-people -outdoors.html

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