Getting People Outdoors for Their Health in Oregon








Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative

In Oregon, we’re working with Oregon Public Health Institute and other partners to improve mental and physical health by increasing the presence and use of the outdoors in communities facing health disparities. Learn more about this work below.

Spending time outdoors in nature can improve human health, but not everyone has equal access to the outdoors.

Communities of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups face barriers to spending time in the outdoors and are also more likely to experience health disparities than white, middle- and high-income people.

The Health and Outdoors Action Framework outlines the beginnings of a strategy for accelerating positive health and conservation outcomes for all Oregonians by increasing the presence of, access to, and use of parks, nature, and the outdoors in communities facing inequities. The recommendations in the framework are based on current research and evidence, ideas from interviews and group work sessions, and the experience of the planning team. The planning team included:

Oregon Health Outdoors Framework cover

Click to download the Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors


Or, download the two-page handout.


Actions are underway to implement the Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors.



The pilot projects are designed to support communities with the resources and tools they need to reduce barriers to getting outdoors; develop more parks, trails, and trees; improve access to existing green spaces; and, scale the programs that get people outdoors.

Hike It Baby in Eastern Oregon is working with new moms in Baker and Wallowa Counties, and the Northeast Oregon Network is helping prevent cancer with more time spent hiking.

LatinXplorers in the Columbia Gorge has health workers leading group hikes that reduce stress and build community.

adaptive sports hand cycling oregon health and outdoors initiative

Adaptive Sports Northwest in Portland is bringing nature a little closer to people with physical disabilities. Hand cycling at Portland International Raceway is a great way to get outside, be with people, and get active.


We know enough about the health benefits of time spent outdoors in nature to act now (see Table 1). However, many questions remain about the effects of contact with nature on human health. For example, how do we measure a “dose” of nature? We’ve created a research agenda focused on key unanswered questions that have the potential to yield major public health insights, now published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

We are also developing the evaluation tools that communities need to measure the health benefits of their work.

Now published in Environmental Health Perspectives, read “Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda.”

OPHI logo
Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative, Oregon Community Health Workers Association (ORCHWA) logo
oregon healthiest state logo
Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative, OHSU Oregon Office on Disability and Health-logo
intertwine logo
Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative, PacificSource Health Plans logo
Northeast Oregon Network Logo
Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative, Providence logo
Black Parent Initiative logo


The Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative is made possible with generous support from Lora L. and Martin N. Kelley Family Foundation, REI Co-OpU.S. Forest ServiceOregon Community FoundationMeyer Memorial TrustRobert Wood Johnson FoundationGray Family Foundation, Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program, Providence Hood River Hospital, Nike, and Pacific Source Health Plans.

Get in touch about the Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative.


Have questions about the Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative?

bobby cochran, headshot, robert wood johnson foundation, willamette partnership


Bobby Cochran, Senior Fellow | Community Resilience and Innovation

email |
office | 503.334.6872

Emily Henke, health and outdoors, OPHI


Emily Henke, Interim CEO at Oregon Public Health Institute

email |
office | 206.225.7130

Willamette Partnership offers tools and training for water utilities, cities, and restoration and environmental groups to advance health through their work.