Getting more people outdoors

Marty Schnure, TWS

All Americans should have access to the same opportunities to enjoy public lands

Public lands belong to you, no matter your race, income or zip code. From local parks to big, wild landscapes, you deserve to enjoy them to the fullest.

But we recognize that there are lots of barriers that might prevent people from experiencing the benefits of public lands. That is why we are working to address some of the biggest physical, legal and social obstacles. This work includes organizing shuttle-buses that help low-income and public transportation-dependent communities access hiking trails; supporting language- and gender-inclusivity in park facilities; advocating for local, state and federal policies that protect and promote open space; increasing access for recreational activities led by a guide who can ensure that people have a safe and enjoyable experience in the outdoors; and training the advocates of the future in the best ways to protect the wild places in their own backyards.

Why this issue matters

Factors like lack of access to transportation mean many people are being left out of public lands or discouraged from enjoying them. This disproportionately affects people of color and those in low-income areas. Addressing those issues will help make communities happier, healthier and more connected with nature, in addition to inspiring more people to care for wild places.

People in many urban areas face greater barriers
accessing nature due to lack of transportation or other factors.
80% of low-income communities in the West
are farther away from natural land than the average community in their state.
95% of national park visitors are white
compared to 72% of the general population.

What we're doing

  1. Organizing public transportation

    In urban areas, accessing parks and open spaces can be a challenge. To help address this, we partner with local governments and organizations on “Transit to Trail” programs that help people who are dependent on public transportation enjoy nature. These efforts also help people who want to become less reliant on their cars.

  2. Investing in parks

    We work with state and local interests to drive public investment in parks, trails and other projects, including through ballot initiatives, bond measures and direct work with officials.

  3. Encouraging young leaders

    We train and support young conservationists, particularly within low-income communities of color, in order to help develop the next generation of advocates. We also organize and fund youth programs across the country with partners that give young people experience outdoors and teach them about advocating for public lands. 

  4. Increasing access

    We work to increase access to public lands for guides and other outdoor leaders who provide positive recreational experiences to young people and families, including those from historically underserved communities.

What you can do

Join our WildAlert list for opportunities to tell elected officials that our wildlands deserve protection.