In an on-going search for relief from the stress of every day life, Americans have "gone back to nature" seeking recreation and relaxation. Each year over 189 million people enjoy the wonders of the American outdoors at our national and state parks, green spaces, and open areas. This return to nature has sparked a boom in the outdoor recreation industry contributing $90 billion to the economy and employing 786,000 people full-time.

The rediscovery of the American outdoors has come at a price, however. Industry has followed Americans back to nature harvesting natural resources. The expansion and construction of facilities and amenities, along with careless planning, have also destroyed once pristine and natural areas.

• Each day Americans consume over 4.28 square miles of rural land (American Farmland Trust 99) to development and urban sprawl: some estimates are as much as 9 square miles per day.

• A child born today in the U.S., by the age of 75, will produce 52 tons of garbage, consume 10 million gallons of water and use five times the energy of a child born in the developing world. (National Wildlife Federation)

• The U.S. accounts for half of all the carbon dioxide emissions produced by western industrialized nations - a leading cause of global warming. (World Wildlife Fund: August 99)

Clearly, our newfound love for nature has unintentionally put the Great American Outdoors - our natural treasure - at risk.

Understanding this risk, both Days In The Country and Days in the Country Environmental Education Foundation Inc. sm seeks to preserve our national treasure and channel appreciation of nature into responsible land usage and conservation practices.