Health & Outdoors: An Oregon Action Initiative


Nature gives us everything we need to thrive. We help return the favor.

The Challenge: 

The health sector has traditionally focused on providing healthcare—treating the symptoms of disease rather than the root causes of public health. Conservation has typically taken a similar approach, using regulatory policies like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act to treat the most visible symptoms of pollution rather than addressing the root causes.

The economic realities of having to do more with less are driving the conservation and health communities to look for more integrated, evidence-based, and outcome-driven solutions. Better science and expanded social networks are making those connections possible.

The Solution: 

The time is ripe for bringing the health and conservation communities together to identify, quantify, and better leverage the links between a healthy environment and healthy people. Willamette Partnership is supporting efforts nationally and in Oregon to better demonstrate the link between health and the outdoors via the Health and Outdoors Initiative.


Bobby Cochran has been named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader in recognition for the Partnership’s work on the Health and Outdoors Initiative (see more from the press release). The Initiative is co-led with Oregon Public Health Institute and has launched community efforts in Hood River, Baker City, and other locales to expand greenspace, access to nature, and culturally-relevant programming to get more people outdoors more often—especially communities facing significant health disparities. The work is based on a framework unveiled at the Oregon Healthiest State Summit on November 10, 2015.

The Initiative is also building a database of health and outdoor programs around the United States, identifying health outcomes, metrics, and other evaluation tools that programs can use to measure success. We have begun work on a research agenda identifying the needs for new information, evidence to inform policy, and evaluation tools for communities.

Nationally, and with 27 other organizations, in October 2014, the Partnership helped draft the Wingspread Declaration on Health and Nature.

The Partnership has released a Discussion Note on how trends in hospital charity care may be creating opportunities to connect hospitals with greenspace groups, providing opportunities for new investment in parks, greenways, urban tree planting, and other activities.

Project Docs

Website Resources/Links

Health and Outdoors Initiative:

Wingspread Declaration of Health and Nature: