Outdoor Recreation in Alabama
A 48-minute webinar presentation on the SCORP highlights recorded on March 23, 2023.
Statewide Outdoor Recreation Trends & Strategy
Outdoor Recreation Trends in Alabama
While the 2021 SCORP focuses on assessing regional needs and priorities, statewide trends provide an important perspective:
- 60.7% of all Alabama residents participated in outdoor recreation at least once in 2020-2021, with walking and jogging continuing to be the most popular activity.
- 56% of Alabama households say that outdoor recreation is important or very important to their household.
- Three-quarters of Alabama residents support more public funding for outdoor recreation and want to see more recreational opportunities in our state.
- The outdoor recreation facilities with the greatest statewide unmet demand are paved walking/jogging paths, hiking trails, and education-focused nature trails.
- Leading barriers to participation for all Alabama residents are the lack of available facilities near where they live and the cost associated with participation.
- Alabama’s public recreation areas experienced an average usage increase of 34% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Half of Alabama’s outdoor recreation providers lack the resources they need to take care of existing outdoor recreation facilities.
- While most outdoor recreation providers indicate they have vocal local supporters, they have difficulty translating that enthusiasm into volunteer support
Alabama’s Outdoor Recreation Strategy
Developed through a public engagement process involving over 60 stakeholder organizations and almost 900 residents, the following strategic Vision, Values, and Goals are guiding the development of enhanced access to outdoor recreation opportunities for all:
This statement represents a shared vision for improving outdoor recreation in a manner that responds to the wants of the public while also recognizing the needs and realities of delivering consistent high-quality experiences:
Outdoor recreation in Alabama enhances the health and quality of life for everyone by offering a variety of experiences that embrace social, environmental, and economic sustainability.
Values represent the desired quality and character of outdoor recreation as well as the foundational elements necessary to achieve that character.
Environmentally and economically sustainable: The environment is the primary asset for recreation activities and attractions in Alabama. Keeping this environment healthy means that we can deliver high-quality outdoor recreation experiences that benefit our state’s economy.
Organized: Good management protocols ensure high-quality outdoor recreation experiences. Facility and program operators demonstrate professionalism and intentionality by providing a high level of service, cleanliness, maintenance, security, and levels of safety that align with the inherent risks of recreation.
Connected: Projects and programs that are impactful at regional and statewide scales are usually beyond the capacity of any single organization to achieve alone. Intentional coordination and collaboration among multiple partners ensure that these initiatives are operationally and physically connected to leverage the assets of all partners and achieve a larger scale of positive impact.
Inviting: An authentic culture of hospitality does more than welcome people to experience the outdoors in Alabama. It actively invites them to engage with their environment and with each other. Outdoor recreation in Alabama is inclusive and reflective of our resident population and invites everyone.
Unique: The landscapes and culture of Alabama are distinguishing characteristics celebrated throughout outdoor recreation. By reflecting what is unique at a local level, projects and programs provide memorable and enjoyable experiences for visitors.
The following Goals (and accompanying objectives, defined in the SCORP report) define core actionable strategies for delivering outdoor recreation services that incorporate the ideals articulated in the Vision and Value statements.
- Promote the conservation and stewardship of natural and cultural resources.
- Increase physical accessibility to outdoor recreation facilities through universal design.
- Increase and sustain funding resources for outdoor recreation facility maintenance and development, particularly for underserved communities.
- Enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion of outdoor recreation facilities and programs.
- Enhance public awareness of and engagement in outdoor recreation
- Connect outdoor recreation assets and communities.
- Improve the effectiveness of partnerships to develop and maintain outdoor recreation facilities.