Clothing-optional recreation is the enjoyment of ordinary outdoor pursuits like swimming, sunbathing, camping and hiking while nude. Whatever you may think about people who would do such a thing, it isn't shameful, indecent or lewd. Clothing-optional recreation is not about sex or sexuality but about interacting with nature in the most natural way possible.
Being nude in nature is healthy, fun and good for the soul. Exposing the body to the air and the sun without the restrictions of clothing has numerous health benefits. Millions of normal people have discovered how good it feels to have the sun and the breeze on their skin and how it helps them feel better, more relaxed and less stressed as a result.
In 2009 the Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) commissioned the prestigious Zogby International polling firm to conduct an independent scientific poll to test the responses of Californians to questions about clothing-optional recreations. The poll results revealed that 79-percent of those surveyed agreed that people should be able to enjoy nude sunbathing on a beach or other location designated for that purpose. 70-percent of the respondents agreed that areas should be set aside for people who enjoy clothing-optional recreation. The results of the 2009 poll were very much in line with the results obtained in similar national polls commissioned by NEF in 1983, 2000 and 2006.
While public approval has been building continually for designating clothing-optional areas, governmental agencies that manage public lands like the National Parks Service and U.S. Forest Service have been slow to respond to the emerging demand. Not only have no new clothing-optional areas been designated, areas users had the liberty to legally go nude in the past, have since been re-designated as areas where nudity is prohibited.
In response a petition has been launched at the White House "We the People" website that calls on the Obama administration to provide greater access to federally managed public lands to those who enjoy clothing-optional recreation by designating portions of federally managed beaches and wilderness areas for clothing-optional use.
It's important to note that this petition seeks designated, properly signed clothing-optional areas where users are at liberty to be nude if they so choose without fear of legal prosecution or official harassment. It does not seek the right of users to be nude wherever or whenever they choose.
The petition also does not ask that the enforcement of laws that prohibit public lewdness be relaxed. Like most people, those who enjoy clothing-optional recreation do not condone overt sexual activity in public.
It is recognized that clothing-optional recreation isn't for everyone. Some due to their personal beliefs and values have sincere objections to public nudity and find it offensive to be subjected to the nudity of others without their consent. There is a media-fueled perception in our society and culture that nudity equals sex. Yet those who enjoy clothing-optional recreation have learned that while people are nude in sexual situations, simple nudity does not presume a sexual situation. The two can be mutually exclusive and wholesome and non-sexual nudity can go hand in hand with the enjoyment of ordinary outdoor recreational pursuits.
Under the Department of the Interior there are 56 parks that together contain 84 million acres of back country land under management of the National Parks Service and another 264 million acres of public lands under management of the Bureau of Land Management. There are 155 national forests containing 188 million acres of wilderness land under management of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. The immense size of back country and wilderness areas under management of the federal government offer ample space for the establishment of the proposed designated clothing-optional recreational areas without impacting on use of these public lands by other users who do not wish to be exposed to nudity.
In the interest of maintaining order, it is recognized that federally managed public recreation areas where visitor use, recreation opportunities and facilities draw large numbers of visitors, it is proper to prohibit public nudity. It is foreseeable that permitting public nudity in such areas could create controversy and conflicts among users or cause crowd-control concerns. That is the reason that specifically designated and properly signed clothing-optional areas are needed. Those who would object to being exposed to open nudity would not have to worry that they might accidentally and without warning find themselves in a clothing-optional area. Those who enjoy clothing-optional recreation would have clear boundaries to respect while enjoying the freedom to be nude and would also know where they would be expected to be clothed.
No federal law exists that prohibits public nudity on federal lands so no changes to existing laws are needed. All that would be required to make provisions for clothing-optional recreational use of public lands is a directive from the administration to the federal agencies that manage federal public lands to designate portions of those lands for clothing-optional recreational use where local state or county laws or ordinances that criminalize simple nudity would not be enforced.
Aside from a few clothing-optional beaches like Gunnison Beach that is part of the Sandy Hook unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area managed by the National Parks Service, there are few options available to those who enjoy clothing-optional recreation. In fact, federal public lands that formerly offered such opportunities have since had the option rescinded. As one example, as late as 1994, the celebrated Spence Hot Springs in the Santa Fe National Forest near the town of Jemez Springs, New Mexico, were available for clothing-optional use on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while bathing attire was required on the other days of the week. There was a NPS provided sign installed with the schedule thereon but it has since been replaced with a "Nudity Prohibited" sign.
Our petition is about fundamental fairness and equal access. All fair-minded Americans are asked to sign our petition in the interest of even-handed treatment of all Americans when it comes to access to federally managed public recreational areas.