COSA New Research: The COVID-19 Pandemic is Changing Expectations for Publ ic Land Management

Greetings Leave No Trace Supporters and Partners,

On March 11th, 2020, since the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, daily life continues to be rapidly altered leading to changes in the way may people spend time outside. To collect timely and relevant data on national recreation patterns, before, during, and after the pandemic, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has been working quickly with its research partner, Pennsylvania State University, to offer guidance to land managers, recreation providers, and outdoor enthusiasts across the country.

In the second phase of this ongoing research, over 800 outdoor enthusiasts from the Leave No Trace community were surveyed in a 48-hour window from April 30 – May 2, 2020. The results of this assessment are intended to provide critical information for managing the changing recreational use of public lands, predicting spikes in recreation, and offering insight for land managers as they work to protect both the natural world and visitors.

The tables, figures, and corresponding brief descriptions access by the link below are intended to provide initial results the second phase of this research effort. Further results are forthcoming. As are additional surveys to track trends over time.

See attached and:

Please feel free to distribute widely to your networks. Let me know if you have questions.

Hope you’re all safe and healthy.


Ben Lawhon, MS | Education Director

Leave No Trace

Center for Outdoor Ethics

PO Box 997 | Boulder, CO 80306

P 303.442.8222 x104

F 303.442.8217



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COVID_OR_phase II_final.pdf