Recreation partners integral to meeting our lands' crises

Hikers at Table Rock Wilderness

flickr, BLMOregon

Those of us who are committed to America's lands are becoming increasingly concerned about what has been referred to as the "constituency crisis." While millions still love enjoying our wild places, there has been a decline in interest in the past few decades. And people who don't experience the outdoors are less likely to understand its importance. 

Of course many of us know differently, and some of us even want to share our love of the outdoors with others. This includes The Wilderness Society and most of its partners, including the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE).

"A child who spends time exploring out in nature is more likely to be thin and fit, get better grades in school, and be free of emotional problems than kids that don’t spend enough time outside," Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said as the keynote speaker at AORE's conference last month.

AORE is an organization made up of professionals and students in the field of outdoor recreation and education. AORE's membership includes college and university outdoor programs, military base recreation programs and other community-based recreation groups. In addition to recreation and education, AORE's mission includes promoting the preservation and conservation of the natural environment. The Wilderness Society partners with AORE because although we have been crucial to these efforts, we know we can't do it alone. 

Next year marks the 50th Anniversary of our Wilderness Act, which has allowed us to protect about 110 million acres in those years. But the work hasn't ended. Members of Congress continue to propose legislation that threatens our lands, even those that are protected. Lack of funding, logging, drilling, uneccessary roads and even reckless renewable energy development are all potentially putting these lands at risk.

"That’s why the work you do must be highlighted and celebrated – because it brings people back into the wild, and gets more people to care about the fate of our wild places," Williams told AORE conference attendees. "Recreation is the key to our success, and in many ways it always has been."

Watch the video below to learn more, courtesy of the Outdoor Industry Association: