U.S. Department of the Interior

Bureau of Land Management


Part 4

RECREATION AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES

The Bureau of Land Management's outdoor recreation mission is to sustain healthy land and water resources while providing quality visitor services. BLM's overall vision for outdoor recreation is "Visitors renewing their relationships with the land and respecting local cultures while enjoying quality recreation activities."

The BLM provides resource-dependent recreational opportunities in a variety of settings that typify the vast western landscapes of the 11 public land states. These diverse settings range from the tundra in Alaska to the deserts of the Southwest; and from the old growth forests of the Northwest to the plateaus and plains of the Rocky Mountain states. As a national provider of recreation, BLM focuses on its niche -- providing resource-based versus facilities-based recreation and tourism opportunities. BLM emphasizes visitors' freedom to pursue unstructured recreation opportunities as long as the visitor accepts the responsibility to use public lands wisely and to respect other visitors and local residents.

Visitors participate in a variety of activities on public lands. Most individuals, groups, and families participate in more than one activity per visit. Visitor use information described by major groupings of these activities is found in Table 4-1. The BLM stresses the use of education and interpretation to encourage visitors' knowledge, appreciation, and safe enjoyment of public land resources. Responsible use is encouraged by BLM and its partners through land use ethics programs such as Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace!. In addition, the BLM is also working with other agencies and partner organizations to improve accessibility to public lands and recreation facilities for all visitors, including people with disabilities and public land visitors from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Recreation and leisure opportunities and the resources they are derived from play a critical role in the growing local community and national tourism economies. The BLM provides recreation opportunities in areas having national, as well as regional and local, importance. Areas of national importance, designated Congressionally or Administratively, include 34 National Wild and Scenic Rivers (2,022 miles); 136 Wilderness Areas (5.3 million acres) and 622 Wilderness Study Areas (17.3 million acres); 37 National Recreation, Historic, or Scenic Trails (4,521 miles); 1 National Monument (1.7 million acres); 1 National Recreation Area (1 million acres); 1 National Scenic Area (65,280 acres), and 69 National Back Country Byways (3,518 miles).

Recreational opportunities of regional and local importance are provided in a variety of settings: non-fee sites (see Table 4-4), rivers (5,763 miles) not in the Wild and Scenic River System, and inventoried trails (7,468 miles) not in the National Trail System. In addition, fish and wildlife species found on BLM lands produce a variety of primary and secondary benefits. Some visitors to public lands benefit directly by participating in consumptive activities (i.e., hunting and fishing; see Table 4-2) and nonconsumptive wildlife-related activities (e.g., birdwatching, camping, hiking, and photography; see Table 4-3). Secondary benefits from wildlife-related activities on public lands accrue to community businesses that benefit from the sale of equipment, services, food, lodging, and transportation to public land visitors, and to state wildlife agencies that manage wildlife populations through both consumptive and non-consumptive activities.

While the BLM's focus is on providing resource-based recreation and tourism opportunities, BLM does provide facilities where necessary to protect resources and to serve as staging areas for resource-based recreation use. For the most part, facilities are not the attraction in and of themselves. In some high-use areas, visitors are charged a recreation use fee or entrance fee to help cover the cost of facility maintenance and resource protection (see Table 4-5 for designated fee site information). Fees in this category are called Recreation Use Permits.

Special recreation permits are also used as a mechanism to protect resources and reduce visitor conflicts. Special recreation permits are issued to individuals or groups participating in commercial or competitive activities on BLM-managed lands. Special recreation permits may also be required for special management areas and group events to protect resources and public health and safety. Table 4-6 identifies the type and number of permits BLM issues and revenue generated from these permits during fiscal year 1997.

The information in Tables 4-1, 4-4, 4-5, and 4-6 was derived from the BLM Recreation Management Information System database as of November 1997. Additional information from this database is available upon request from your local BLM office or the BLM Headquarters office in Washington, DC.

 4-1 Estimated recreational use of public lands administered by BLM by major activity grouping  PDF  
 4-2 Estimated number of hunter days and net value of hunting trips on public lands  PDF  
 4-3 Estimated number of persons, visitor days and expenditures for nonconsumptive trips to public lands  PDF  
 4-4 Estimated recreational visits to non-fee siteson public land administered by BLM  PDF  
 4-5 Recreation use for fee sites on public lands administered by BLM  PDF  
 4-6  Land and Water Conservation Fund Act deposits from BLM-administered recreational fee activities  PDF  

 

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