Title

Perceptions of the Susquehanna River’S Influence on the Health and Wellbeing of River Town Residents

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Session

Poster session

Start Date

26-10-2018 8:00 PM

End Date

26-10-2018 9:59 PM

Keywords

Susquehanna River, blue space, public health, urban rivers, river towns

Description

Growing evidence indicates blue space, characterized by proximity to bodies of water, may benefit human health and wellbeing. Research evaluating benefits is key to supporting conservation and development of blue spaces. The goal of this study is to evaluate how the Susquehanna River and other Pennsylvania waterways influence resident health and wellbeing. To inform study development, we interviewed 7 key informants from non-governmental organizations and local and state government and 16 residents from communities representing the three Susquehanna River branches. Key informants believed the river is increasingly viewed as a recreational and tourism asset, but that it remained underappreciated and underutilized. Some communities view it as a liability given fears about flooding and related economic consequences. Key informants reported river access influenced use of and connection to the river, with access impeded by financial, knowledge, perceptual, and physical barriers. Though satisfied with their own access, resident interviewees similarly viewed widespread river use as hampered by insufficient access, along with its “invisibility as a destination” and perceptions of it as “destructive and dirty.” Many described an affinity for blue space and a personal attachment to the Susquehanna, and highlighted its beauty, recreational assets, and importance as wildlife habitat. Resident interviewees had varied interactions with the river, ranging from frequent paddling excursions to occasional riverfront walks, that changed seasonally and over their life course. Both sets of interviewees said the river benefited individuals by providing a calming space that allowed for connection with nature, a source of recreation and physical activity, a sense of place, and a community connecting point. They described the Susquehanna River as a defining feature of river towns that benefited communities recreationally, aesthetically, and economically, but that a stronger connection between commercial main streets and riverfronts was needed. Future work includes a survey of river town and non-river town residents to evaluate associations of river interactions with health behaviors and outcomes, and direct observation of study towns to evaluate river access points, natural recreation areas, and commercial areas.

Language

eng

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Oct 26th, 8:00 PM Oct 26th, 9:59 PM

Perceptions of the Susquehanna River’S Influence on the Health and Wellbeing of River Town Residents

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Growing evidence indicates blue space, characterized by proximity to bodies of water, may benefit human health and wellbeing. Research evaluating benefits is key to supporting conservation and development of blue spaces. The goal of this study is to evaluate how the Susquehanna River and other Pennsylvania waterways influence resident health and wellbeing. To inform study development, we interviewed 7 key informants from non-governmental organizations and local and state government and 16 residents from communities representing the three Susquehanna River branches. Key informants believed the river is increasingly viewed as a recreational and tourism asset, but that it remained underappreciated and underutilized. Some communities view it as a liability given fears about flooding and related economic consequences. Key informants reported river access influenced use of and connection to the river, with access impeded by financial, knowledge, perceptual, and physical barriers. Though satisfied with their own access, resident interviewees similarly viewed widespread river use as hampered by insufficient access, along with its “invisibility as a destination” and perceptions of it as “destructive and dirty.” Many described an affinity for blue space and a personal attachment to the Susquehanna, and highlighted its beauty, recreational assets, and importance as wildlife habitat. Resident interviewees had varied interactions with the river, ranging from frequent paddling excursions to occasional riverfront walks, that changed seasonally and over their life course. Both sets of interviewees said the river benefited individuals by providing a calming space that allowed for connection with nature, a source of recreation and physical activity, a sense of place, and a community connecting point. They described the Susquehanna River as a defining feature of river towns that benefited communities recreationally, aesthetically, and economically, but that a stronger connection between commercial main streets and riverfronts was needed. Future work includes a survey of river town and non-river town residents to evaluate associations of river interactions with health behaviors and outcomes, and direct observation of study towns to evaluate river access points, natural recreation areas, and commercial areas.