People Can Underestimate the Happiness Effect of Being Outdoors!

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Garrett, Michael; Taylor, Sander
lecture / presentation description
Boise Open Spaces have long been a part of the cultural identity of the Treasure Valley. Open space projects typically emphasize the economic benefits of conservation, sustainability, and recreational opportunities. However, even though studies have shown that experiencing nature can help reduce stress and boosts mood, most projects do not explicitly consider the benefits that natural open spaces have in relation to promoting mental wellness and spiritual well-being. The goal of this project was to survey visitors of popular outdoor sites in Boise in order to better understand how people use these sites, as well as how access to open spaces affects their sense of well-being. We began by interviewing individuals from the Master Naturalist Sage Brush Steep Chapter, Morrison Knutson Nature Center, Boise Parks and Recreation, Golden Eagle Autobahn Society, and Idaho Fish and Game to get ideas on questions we should be asking open space users. We then composed a survey that we fielded at three sites listed on The City of Boise Reserve Management Plan; Fort Boise, Table Rock, and Camel’s Back Park. It is our hope that results from our survey will provide the public with awareness and education on the many benefits of open spaces.