The vast offerings of the local park and recreation agency improve the lives of people throughout our nation. Americans on average visit their local park and recreation facilities twice a month, for many people, these visits are far more frequent. Regardless of the frequency of these interactions, nine in ten Americans agree that parks and recreation is a vital service delivered by their local government. It is no wonder the availability of high-quality parks and recreational amenities are a major factor considered when people pick a place to live and raise a family.

To harness Americans’ untapped passion for public parks and recreation, NRPA each year conducts a study explore Americans’ usage of parks, the key reasons that drive their use, and the greatest challenges preventing increased usage. This annual study probes the importance of public parks in Americans’ lives, including how parks rate against other service offerings of local governments. The survey of 1,000 American adults looks at frequency and drivers of parks/recreation facilities visits and the barriers that prevent greater enjoyment. In addition, the 2017 study took a special look at parks and recreation’s role in resiliency and their special responsibility to help their communities withstand and recover from natural disasters.

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Key Findings

  • Americans, on average, visit their local park and recreation facilities approximately twice a month
  • Eighty-five percent of Americans consider high-quality park and recreation amenities as an important factor when they are choosing a new place to live
  • Four in five Americans agree that the NRPA Three Pillars of Conservation, Health and Wellness, and Social Equity represent what they see as the priorities for their local park and recreation agency
  • More than nine in 10 Americans agree that parks and recreation are important services
  • Ninety-five percent of Americans agree that it is important that their local government acts to protect the natural environment, including acquiring, constructing and maintaining local parks, trails and green spaces
  • Eighty-seven percent of Americans support their local government and park and recreation agency in investing in critical infrastructure that would make their regions more resilient and would improve their community’s ability to withstand or recover quickly from natural disasters


Americans' Engagement with Parks and Recreation


Americans' Engagement with Parks Survey - 2016

The inaugural edition of this study found that seven in 10 Americans say they are more likely to vote for local politicians who make park and recreation funding a priority. Further, most Americans back increased local government spending for park and recreation agencies with solid support for a nearly 30 percent increase in funding for local park and recreation agencies.


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