Forest Service Reports 10%+ Camping Growth in '09
Editor's Note: James S. Bedwell, director of recreation, heritage and volunteer services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, shared the following data with Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, who passed it along to Woodall's Campground Management. This represents another installment in a series of reports on the state of public sector camping in the U.S. in 2009, courtesy of Crandall.
From 2008 to 2009, we experienced an 18% increase in reservations for USFS campgrounds thru NRRS, representing a 12.2% increase in overall occupancy nights. … We will not have our overall use figures, including non-NRRS campgrounds and dispersed camping until mid-spring, but anecdotal evidence indicates similar increases. We also initiated a comments section in NRRS and captured a few that indicate the attraction of a low-cost alternative of camping on the public lands.
"Further, in late spring 2009, we had our FCG ACSI survey on Recreation.gov add a custom question that specifically asked about travel plans being affected by the economic downturn.
Here are examples of our open-end responses to this question to give you a feel for the type of information we are capturing:
- "A few years ago, most of my leisure budget went into urban activities, but since I'm in a tighter financial situation this year, I will be looking to take advantage of cheap outdoors/rural recreation. What little outdoors recreation I have been interested in prior were winter sports and water sports. Now that finances are tough, I'm abandoning those as well and looking for good hiking and camping experiences."
- "Camping across US rather than visiting Europe or Mexico"; "staying closer to home/camping instead of hotels."
We will have more complete analysis of all the camping stats in the near future.