Coordinating and Standardizing Outdoor Recreation Supply and Demand Databases to Facilitate Management and Promote Conservation, Health, and Accessibility


  • Wayde C. Morse School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn University
  • Lee K. Cerveny
  • Dale J. Blahna



Recreation, Demand, Supply, SCORP, Protected Areas


Recreation opportunities exist as a system at multiple scales and are offered by a variety of recreation providers sometimes with different goals and objectives. Incremental and disparate planning across providers can lead to mismatched supply and demand and inefficient use of resources. Furthermore, traditional recreation supply and demand studies have not systematically considered compatible benefits from conserving recreation lands including demand for and provision of biodiversity and wildlife conservation, ecosystem services, human health, and environmental justice issues.

Historically, the supply of outdoor recreation and conservation lands was assembled by different state and federal agencies, counties and municipalities, Native American tribes, non-governmental organizations, or private organizations for the lands they directly managed with little systematic coordination. A national level Protected Area Databased (PAD-US) developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Gap Analysis Project is changing this. It is the official, publicly available, and comprehensive spatial inventory of every park and protected area in the US. The PAD-US program has developed a standardized data set with consistent protocols and methodologies for data collection for continuous updates.

Demand assessments are currently conducted by various federal and state agencies, industry associations, and academics. These studies are independently conducted at various levels form recreation site, across land ownership, by activity, or state and national studies. Initiated in 1960, what became the National Survey of Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) collected recreation demand data for analysis at state and national levels. Many recreation planners used this data until it was discontinued in 2014. While there has been coordination and systemization and standardization of recreation supply data collection, no similar actions have occurred for demand.

Following the PAD-US, we identify opportunities to coordinate, standardize, and systematize the collection of demand data across agencies, ownerships, and scales. We propose a parallel publicly available National Recreation Demand Database (NRDD) with consistent protocols and methodologies to be the comprehensive and authoritative inventory of recreation demand. We suggest that a new National Survey on People and the Environment (NSPE) be developed to replace the NSRE to collect improved data on outdoor recreation, other resource uses, and compatible benefit demand information.

Author Biography

Wayde C. Morse, School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn University


School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

Auburn University