WASHINGTON — Thirteen protected areas managers from six countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine) spent 10 days in mid-September learning about protected areas management in Colorado. Themes explored by the study tour included visitor management, conservation education and interpretation, multiple use management, partnership and community engagement, land use planning and participatory mapping, and urban protected areas.
The group was hosted by the regional office in Region 2, and it visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Sulphur Ranger District (Arapaho National Forest), South Park Ranger District (Pike and San Isabel National Forest), Browns Canyon National Monument and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Particularly noteworthy were the discussions of multiple use management in Sulphur Ranger District and the real-time example from staff of Browns Canyon National Monument on how to design and manage a newly formed protected area, given diverse historic uses of a resource.
The participants noted that they felt so warmly welcomed and were impressed by how clearly the specialists they met with enjoyed talking about their work and sharing their experiences. One woman noted that “our citizens don’t feel that our federal lands belong to them the same way that Americans clearly do. It is wonderful to see how the federal land management agencies work hard to communicate this ownership to the American public, and then welcome community engagement and volunteers.”
The group was also particularly impressed by the philosophy that everyone working at a national park, forest, monument or wildlife refuge has an important role to play in communicating with and educating the public that they come in contact with throughout their day, whether they are a scientist, an administrator, a law enforcement officer or an educator.