Nearly all Pennsylvanians who have visited parks, trails and other open spaces during the coronavirus pandemic rate their experiences as essential to their mental and physical health.
In a survey of 1,001 Pennsylvanians by the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg, 86 percent of respondents said time in the outdoors over the past year has been essential to their mental and/or physical health.
Results of the Lion Poll were presented to the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council on Wednesday.
“The poll results confirm what we have been seeing with our visitation numbers – that Pennsylvanians are turning to the outdoors for healthy activity and solace during the challenging times of the pandemic,” said Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“That interest in the outdoors also has a positive impact on our economy and small businesses, as people try new activities and purchase the related gear.”
About 75 percent of respondents also agreed that funding outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks, trails and open spaces, should be considered a top priority by state and local governments.
Interest in learning new outdoor recreation hobbies and skills increased during the pandemic for 37 percent of respondents.
About 1 out of 5 tried a new outdoor recreation activity.
A similar 20 percent reported that the bought outdoor recreation equipment, gear or clothing to accommodate those new pursuits. Of those who answered yes, 42 percent spent $50-249 dollars, almost 17 percent spent $250-499, 10 percent spent $500-749, and about 5 percent spent $1,000 or more.
About half visited a local trail or park.
State park attendance increased from 37 million in 2019 to more than 46.9 million in 2020, a 26.6 percent increase.
DCNR saw an increase of 7.5 million users/visits to its website in 2020 over the previous year, including more than 4 million new users.
Find more information about Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council on the DCNR website.
Contact Marcus Schneck at [email protected].