Local Partnerships for Health on National Forests


  • Monika M Derrien USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9325-0580
  • Toby Bloom USDA Forest Service, Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources
  • Stacy Duke USDA Forest Service, Hoosier National Forest




public health, public land, partnerships, recreation, stewardship, USDA Forest Service


The USDA Forest Service has recently piloted health partnerships that facilitate therapeutic outdoor experiences on national forests, building on the growing evidence of the multiple health benefits of activities and time spent in nature. This article presents brief case studies of three pilot partnerships between national forests and health organizations in California, Indiana, and Georgia (USA). These partnerships deliver nature-based programming for the general public as well as those who are in recovery from major surgeries, have been diagnosed with cancer, and face chronic health challenges. To help recreation managers and policy makers understand the potential for such local health partnerships in a federal context, we describe the programs’ enabling conditions, their incorporation of service and stewardship activities, and the challenges and successes they have faced. Insights inform an expanding variety of health partnership models that advance the interconnectedness of human and ecosystem health on public lands as a fundamental dimension of sustainable recreation management.