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Oregon’s Aging Population: Relationships Between Facilities, Services, Participation, and Sociodemographics in Outdoor Recreation Settings

Robert C. Burns, Karen Faye Robinson


The purpose of this study was to examine the outdoor recreation behavior of Oregon’s aging population regarding the effect facilities and services have on their outdoor recreation intentions. Several socio-demographic variables were used to develop a profile of the respondents. The influence of facilities and services on their outdoor recreation participation was measured through independent sample t-tests. In order to measure the effects of facilities and services on degree of participation, respondents were asked to rate 14 facilities and services items in regards to how they would impact their degree of participation in outdoor recreation. A stratified random sample was drawn of Oregon residents, and a mail-back questionnaire was chosen to sample those individuals. Of the 4,562 surveys mailed, 1,219 surveys were returned, revealing a 31% response rate. This study utilized only those cases that represented respondents that were 42 to 60 years of age, resulting in a total of 538 responses.Results showed that this population is inclined to participate more often if recreation opportunities are located closer to home, such as hiking trails and parks. Findings from this study also suggest that recreation managers will need to invest resources into the facilities and services demanded by this population. Whether they are younger or older, this cohort will likely be running, hiking, and biking on Oregon trails. Managers should ensure that an adequate inventory of recreation areas has been completed and funding for improving and building new facilities, and providing additional services should be considered. This information will be valuable to recreation managers as they make decisions about facility and services that meet the needs of this cohort. With continuous budget constraints and reductions for recreation facilities and services, managers must be prepared to make hard decisions about what facilities and services should be expanded or reduced in concert with future use. 

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Baby Boomers; Aging; Outdoor Recreation; Older Adults

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