This indicator tracks participation in nature-based recreation in the Puget Sound region during winter, spring, fall and summer seasons. Recreational activities tracked are limited to those within the scope of Puget Sound recovery and include both passive and active recreational activities, such as wildlife-watching, fishing, bicycling, boating, and swimming.
The abililty to engage in outdoor activities contribute to human physical and psychological health by providing opportunities for exercise, mastery, relationship building (with nature, friends, family and pets), and spiritual and aesthetic practices. Combined, the place-specific aspect of these activities contributes to one's sense of place.
Oregon State University Human Dimensions Lab
Data are collected every two years via paper survey and online response option to a random sample of Puget Sound households. The population is a clustered random sample of Puget Sound residents across 12 counties, with an initial sample of 9,000. Due to undeliverable addresses, the total sample reached was less than 9,000. In 2022, the response rate was 20.8 percent, with a total of 1,271 responses. In 2020, the response rate was 25 percent for a total of 1,843 respondents. In 2018, the first iteration of the survey, the response rate was 28 percent for a total of 2,323 individual responses.
The outdoor recreation indicator is based on two questions in the survey that ask respondents to rate their engagement in 12 categories of outdoor activities on a six-point scale from never to 20+days/month during the season. Each iteration of the survey asks about the same question in two different seasons. In 2022, respondents were asked about the activities in winter and summer.
For more information on the survey, see Appendix A. Detailed Methodology and Appendix B. 2022 Survey Instrument in the 2022 Summary Report.
Our current analysis of these data is based on most popular activities and whether mean engagement has changed over time. This is a management relevant question for those who maintain recreation spaces. We also recommend an analysis approach based in human health concerns that considers whether each individual respondent is getting about 150 minutes/week of outdoor recreational activity. This is a recommended “dose” for physical and psychological health. Our response options are not currently set up by minutes, however; this will likely be considered in the Vital Signs adaptive management and revision process.
Despite the COVID pandemic during 2020-2021, we did not measure any differences across the general population between 2020 and 2022. We may have hypothesized changes in outdoor recreation due to the COVID pandemic – either motivating people to get outdoors more or limiting mobility. At a population scale, however, we did not see overall behavioral changes in nature-based recreation.
Harrington, K., B. Leach, Z. Antenucci, and K. Biedenweg. 2023. Human Wellbeing Vital Signs Survey 2022 Summary: A report on subjective human wellbeing indicators prepared for the Puget Sound Partnership.
Justiniano, I., C. Avendano, C. Lozano and K. Biedenweg. 2021. Vital Signs Latinx Survey. Report to Puget Sound Partnership.
Fleming, W., H. Kehoe-Thommen, B. Katz, J. Hart and K. Biedenweg. 2021. Vital Signs Survey Summary 2020: A report on subjective human wellbeing. Report to the Puget Sound Partnership.
Fleming, W. and K. Biedenweg. 2019. Visualizing Human Wellbeing in the Puget Sound (Vital Signs Survey Summary 2018). Report to the Puget Sound Partnership.
The Puget Sound Partnership believes in the transparency and accessibility of the data used to address puget sound indicators. These data are provided by contributing partners to the Partnership and are made publicly available through the Puget Sound Info site. These data are available on an "as is" basis and the Partnership is not responsible for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies. Please acknowledge the monitoring program and data source when using these data and obtain permission from the Vital Sign Indicator Reporter to use these data in a publication.