National Scenic Trails (NSTs) connect people with the natural and cultural heritage of the United States. These trails also provide important opportunities for agencies to engage partners in trail stewardship and sponsorship. Partnership engagement ultimately promotes trails that provide outdoor experiences and learning opportunities for visitors and trail users. In the founding legislation of the National Trails System Act of 1968, Congress acknowledged the integral role of volunteers and trail groups and set out “to encourage and assist volunteer citizen involvement in the planning, development, maintenance, and management… of trails” (P.L. 90-543). Early partners played a critical role in encouraging Congress to embrace the concept of national trails and identifying trail routes. Today, the National Trails System includes 11 NSTs, as well as 19 National Historic Trails, and nearly 1,300 National Recreation Trails in 50 states. The entire system engages hundreds of stewardship partners working at local, regional, and national scales. Federal agencies and trail organizations work together to plan and maintain the trails, develop outreach programs, and connect with the public.
Anthropologist Clifford Geertz described language as a cultural practice that provides a “template or blueprint for the organization of social and psychological processes” (1973: 216). Language matters because the way we speak becomes the blueprint for how we construct and manage our world. It holds power in framing issues, forming knowledge, and normalizing certain ways of interacting with the environment. The ways that we talk about recreation, including the very term “recreation,” reproduce assumptions about people and places while influencing management actions and outcomes. This chapter addresses how language shapes not only recreation and its management, but also sustainable recreation research. Our purpose is threefold: first, illuminate ways that language shapes recreation management work, particularly as it affects inclusivity; second, make a case for the need for managers to recognize how language influences practice and perception; and third, identify opportunities to better align research on recreation language with agency objectives. As recreation researchers and managers seek to create more just and sustainable recreation practices, let us begin with language that will guide us toward the cultural changes to which we aspire.
Public lands provide opportunities and settings for people to experience nature and the outdoors. These outdoor experiences are important for human health and well-being and result in visitor spending that benefits local communities. This report shows that new research, tools, and frameworks are needed to help us find new ways to conceptualize outdoor recreation and enhance the ability of public land managers to provide outdoor experiences while protecting natural and cultural resources. The report originated from a set of 17 working papers that were developed as part of an initiative among researchers, managers, and policymakers to “ignite the science of outdoor recreation.” These papers were presented at a 2018 science workshop in Golden, Colorado, that convened 88 outdoor recreation professionals to explore high-priority issues, information needs, and research directions. Their intent was to stimulate further questions, catalyze new thinking about recreation, and prompt institutional changes in how outdoor recreation and tourism are planned and managed on public lands.
Western larch forests are iconic in the interior northwest, and here we document the preemptive steps that scientists and managers are taking to steward these forests into the future. Changing climate is forecast to have acute and chronic impacts on growth and disturbance in western larch forests. A group of scientists and managers in the northern Rocky Mountains have teamed up with the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change Network in an experiment to proactively manage forests for climate adaptation. The collaborative group developed a gradient of adaptation treatments (i.e., resistance, resilience, and transition) focused on climate change at Coram Experimental Forest and the Flathead National Forest. Treatments are scheduled, and monitoring will follow to fuel future research and to help guide regional managers who seek to learn from our treatments. We conclude with predictions of future dynamics in these stands and emphasize the value of landscape heterogeneity and the necessity of long-term monitoring for silvicultural experiments.