By Rachel Cain, Associate Director
As the temperature warms, millions of Americans will head outside to enjoy the weather and take advantage of the many benefits of spending time in nature. In 2019, June was designated “Great Outdoors Month” in celebration of the country’s public lands and waters. The Washington, D.C., metro area offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities—from biking along the C&O Canal towpath, to hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, to swimming or boating in waterways, there are a multitude of ways to experience the outdoors.
Great Outdoors Month is a chance not only to appreciate our local environment, but also a time to reflect on the importance of protecting these natural resources. During the recent Choose Clean Water Conference, presenters and attendees discussed the connection between outdoor recreation and civic engagement in support of environmental policies. Studies indicate that participation in outdoor activities leads to greater environmental concern, and that overall time spent in nature leads to increased value for connectedness to nature and, subsequently, greater pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Getting the public involved in outdoor recreation can be a great opportunity to interest them in ways to protect these natural resources.
However, even as outside activities grow in popularity, the reality is that not every community has regular access to outdoor spaces. Historically it is predominantly white communities that benefit from and have the most access to outdoor spaces. Luckily, numerous organizations across the country are working for all Americans from all demographics, communities, and populations to reap the rewards of spending time outdoors. For instance, Backyard Basecamp focuses on BIPOC communities in Baltimore having access to natural spaces and experiencing the many benefits associated with spending time in nature, such as improved mental health.
This June, as we appreciate the Great Outdoors, we also recognize the work environmental groups do to maintain these spaces for all plants and animals that call them home, for the health of our planet, and for the enjoyment of generations to come. We’re thankful for our environmental clients’ commitment to protecting our planet and improving access for all communities this month and every month.