Perceptions Cover

Americans cherish their local public park and recreation services, seeing them as valuable features of their communities, towns and cities. In fact, Americans almost unanimously agree that their communities benefit from their local public parks, even if they themselves are not regular park users. This passion for local public parks has gone unabated during the past 25 years even as our nation and the ways we interact and entertain each other have dramatically evolved.

Read the report to learn more about the broad-based support for local parks.

Key Study Findings

Perceptions Infographic

The key takeaways from the Americans’ Broad-Based Support for Local Recreation and Park Services report include:

  1. An overwhelming majority of Americans assert that they personally benefit from local parks and that their communities benefit from local parks.

  2. Americans are in agreement that NRPA’s Three Pillars—Conservation, Health & Wellness and Social Equity—are chief priorities for local parks.

  3. Parks are a great value: 4 in 5 Americans concur that local parks are well worth the tax dollars spent on them.

  4. This passion for local parks has gone unabated over the past 25 years, even with dramatic demographic shifts in the United States and the ways technology transformed how we interact with others and entertain ourselves.

  5. Support for local parks is widespread, spanning different age groups, income strata, household types and political affiliations.

Are Parks Worth the Investment?

Perceptions Study Graphics

The study also finds that 4 in 5 Americans believe their local parks are well worth the average amount of $70 per person paid in local taxes every year with over 30% believing they are worth even more.

Dig deeper here with interactive graphics to see how all Americans--crossing nearly all age, income, household format and political strata--support their local parks.


Why This Matters: Local Parks Transform Our Neighborhoods, Towns and Cities into Vibrant Communities

Despite the tight fiscal environment, Americans agree that local, state and national leaders need to dedicate financial resources to support, sustain and expand local park and recreation agencies. As indicated by their strong support, Americans do not view their local park and recreation system as a luxury, but instead as a vital part of what makes their neighborhood a vibrant, dynamic community.


About Americans’ Broad-Based Support for Local Recreation and Park Services

This report is a follow up to the landmark 1992 study The Benefits of Local Recreation and Park Services: A Nationwide Study of the Perceptions of the American Public.

NRPA commissioned Andrew Mowen, Alan Graefe, Austin Barrett and Geoffrey Godbey to follow up on the 1992 study. Using a survey questionnaire that closely followed the questions, wording and order of the 1992 survey, the 2015 study generated 1,144 responses from across the United States. This report is a summary of key highlights from the full study report titled, Americans’ Use and Perceptions of Local Recreation and Park Services: A Nationwide Reassessment.


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