The Challenge

  • Loss of forests near population centers has meant less public access for people to enjoy iconic American recreational activities, from walking and hiking, to fishing and hunting.
  • Fragmentation of forests due to suburban sprawl, which increases levels of air and water pollution, also compromises outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • Indoor, sedentary lifestyles have led to a health and obesity crisis in the United States.
  • State, local, and federal governments have insufficiently funded jobs and maintenance of recreation areas and trails in public forests.

Why We Care

Former Champion Bigleaf Maple

By providing a host of outdoor recreational opportunities, forests encourage people to live healthy, active lifestyles. They also improve mental and spiritual well-being through bonding with others and connecting with nature.

Recreational activities in forests nurture people’s appreciation for the essential role that forests play in preserving the health of our planet and the well-being of its inhabitants.

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative encourages the nation’s youth to lead more active lifestyles from a young age. Offering kids ideas on how to have fun while being active will help to lessen their chances of health-related issues in the future.

Investing in forests for recreation opportunities, such as tourism, hiking, and camping, also provides a boost to the local economy, and a sense of pride in the surrounding communities.

Our Strategy

American Forests has been a long-time supporter of outdoor recreation. By establishing working relationships with outdoor recreation groups, we encourage the nation to responsibly enjoy the many recreation opportunities forests provide.

In the early 1900s, we advocated for the creation of the national parks and forests that today provide so many of our country’s best opportunities for outdoor recreation. We have continued that tradition by working to protect and enhance those same parks and forests today.

Our work with the American Hiking Society allowed our shared input on the creation of the Colorado Roadless Rule.

Recently, we have promoted the message of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, an effort that aims to enhance recreation access and opportunities, and encourages the restoration and protection of our natural resources by promoting the physical benefits forests and outdoor areas provide. This initiative also provides much needed job opportunities that will help stimulate the economy.

What You Can Do

  • Encourage government officials to increase funding for jobs in maintaining recreation areas and in programs that work to educate and encourage the public to protect natural recreation areas and improve their health.
  • Volunteer with local outdoor recreation facilities and groups.
  • Get out and enjoy your local forests, and tell friends and family about the opportunities they have to offer. To find a national forest near you, click here.
  • Contribute to American Forests to help us continue our work to enhance outdoor recreation, while protecting our natural resources.