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A National Assessment of Public Recreational Access on Family Forestlands in the United States

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Private forestlands in the United States are important for public recreation, but access to them may be threatened. Using the US Forest Service's National Woodland Owner Survey, we examined the following questions: (1) How prevalent is public recreational access on family forestland? (2) What influences whether a family forest owner allows public access? (3) Are there regional differences in the supply of public access? We found the provision of public access was modest, with 15% of respondents allowing it. Factors positively correlated with public access provision included owning more forestland, being a resident owner, owning an associated farm/ranch, participating in leasing or timber management activities, possessing a management plan, and allowing private recreational access. Negative factors included posting one's land, having privacy concerns, owning land for hunting, and being an older or more educated owner. Compared with landowners in the North, Southern landowners were less likely and Rocky Mountain landowners more likely to provide public access. Our results raise the question of whether family forest landowners are responsive to public access incentive programs.
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Keywords: National Woodland Owner Survey; family forests; nonindustrial private forestland (NIPF); posting; public access

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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