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Barton Health Partners with USDA Forest Service to Encourage Time in Nature for Community Health

Posted: 09/01/2022

(South Lake Tahoe, CA) – Barton Health and the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) are collaborating to enhance wellness opportunities for the Lake Tahoe community, reigniting Vitamin (N)ature programs. Time in nature is proven to be good for health, and this partnership promotes nature as medicine, utilizing the benefits of public land to provide opportunities for better mental and physical health, including improved fitness, meaningful social interaction, decreased stress, and increased sense of purpose.

“Research indicates that time in nature lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels. It increases concentration, memory, and attention spans. It has been shown to boost immunity and is particularly beneficial for at-risk populations, such as those recovering from surgery, who often spend less time outside. We call it: Vitamin Nature,” said Dr. Clint Purvance, Barton Health President and CEO. “We recognize the importance our surrounding forest lands have on our health, and look forward to harnessing these inspiring settings to achieve personal health-related goals in daily life, and for patients during recovery and treatment.”

Vitamin (N)ature provides opportunities for at-risk populations, promoting proactive wellness through connecting with nature, rather than reactively treating illness. The primary activity is Barton’s Wellness Outings, which provide community members with no-cost, two hour-long guided and interpretive outings on National Forest lands at Lake Tahoe, promoting the therapeutic experience of nature and movement, with the reassuring presence of a healthcare professional. The outings are held at popular sites such as Camp Richardson Resort, Taylor Creek Visitor Center, and Tallac Historic Site.

Through this partnership, Barton Health and the LTBMU will continue to work together to conduct community outreach, develop patient information packages, and promote health-related services in the South Lake Tahoe community. As the program develops, it will include options for people with chronic or terminal illness, patients recovering from surgery, and at-risk youth.

The program has been nationally recognized as an innovative way for the Forest Service and healthcare organizations to improve community health.

Wellness Outings are hosted on the first Monday of each month, with the exception of September, in which additional outings have been planned in alignment with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a month dedicated to raising awareness and sharing resources around mental health crises:

  • Tuesday, September 6, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at High Meadow trailhead
  • Monday, September 12, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Lam Watah trailhead
  • Sunday, September 18, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Moraine trailhead

More information about Barton Wellness Outings is available at BartonHealth.org/WellnessOutings.