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More than 80 percent of the Nation’s 285 million people now reside in metropolitan areas. Many in this vast city and suburban population are attracted to the recreational opportunities and attractions of rural areas, such as beautiful scenery, lakes, mountains, forests, and resorts. For rural communities struggling to offset job losses from farming, mining, and manufacturing, capitalizing on the recreational appeal of an area fosters economic development, attracts new residents, and retains existing population. This article outlines a method to identify nonmetro counties with high recreation development. It then examines the linkage between such development and population change, and considers its implications for the future of rural and small-town America.


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