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.
This Special Issue addresses the intersections of outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism, and sustainability. Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism provide essential benefits to individuals, communities, and society and thereby contribute to sustainability. Equitable provision of opportunities, cultural variations in desired experiences, barriers to outdoor recreation, and diverse perceptions of both nature and recreation add to the complexity in outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism service delivery. Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism occur within a socioecological system with feedback loops to changing social, economic, technological, and ecological conditions. On a global scale, climate change and other disturbance factors are impacting ecosystems and opportunities, increasing the importance of adaptation strategies for longer-term planning. Population growth and regional shifts in demographics and distribution (e.g., urbanization), as well as socioeconomic trends, affect who engages in outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism, opportunities sought, nature access, and governance of outdoor services. Overall the complexity of sustainable outdoor recreation and tourism may suggest a need for different approaches to service delivery, culture change among service providers and managers of natural spaces, and novel approaches to inclusive governance and shared stewardship. Given the clear importance of outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism to society, we invite you to consider this initial introduction to our assembled collection, which is meant to advance our understanding of the intersections of outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism, and sustainability.
Subsistence harvesters in high latitudes rely on frozen rivers for winter access to local resources. During recent decades, interior Alaskan residents have observed changes in river ice regimes that are significant hindrances to travel and subsistence practices. We used remote sensing in combination with local observations to examine changes in seasonality of river breakup and freeze-up and to assess the implications on travel for subsistence harvesters. Spring and autumn air temperatures, respectively, were found to impact timing of breakup (-2.0 days °C-1) and freeze-up (+2.0 days °C-1). Spring air temperatures have increased by 0.2°–0.6°C decade-1 over the last 62–93 years, depending on study area and time period. Local observations indicate that the breakup season has advanced by about 6 days over the last century. Autumn air temperatures have not changed over the long term, but have been generally warmer over the last 15 years. Over various time periods throughout the last century, we found no change in freeze-up timing for some communities, whereas other communities showed delays of 1.0–2.1 days decade-1. The length of time the river was unsafe for travel during the freeze-up season was 2 to 3 times greater than during breakup. The duration of river ice cover for safe travel has declined over the last century and is expected to decline further as the climate continues to warm, thereby presenting new challenges to accessing subsistence resources and necessitating community adaptation.
Motivated by a lack of scholarly attention to the substance of interpretive messages and materials, this study examines discursive aspects of interpretative brochures available at forest recreation and tourism sites in Vermont, United States. Directive statements that instruct and guide visitor experiences—and the discourses to which they contribute—were analyzed for content, form, and meaning. Across the interpretive brochures, four broad discourses were identified: the natural forest, the recreational forest, the productive forest, and the dependent forest. Consideration of intertextuality revealed a fifth, hybrid discourse that linked forests to meanings of Vermont as a distinctive place. The convergence of these discourses across the set of brochures gives insight into the ways interpretation serves to both direct individual visitor experiences at particular sites, and to influence the development of larger-scale place meanings.
Amenity-rich rural communities attract tourists, retirees, secondhome owners, and others whose values are often assumed to conflict with those of longtime residents. While prior research has examined attitudinal differences across types of residents, questions about the effects of community growth on residents’ attitudes remain unanswered. This study examines whether and how seasonal and permanent residents differ within and across towns experiencing different rates of growth, and the implications of differences for attitudes toward community development and preservation. Results showed that permanent residents (both short- and long-term) perceived community development initiatives as more important to maintaining future quality of life than did seasonal homeowners. Further, community growth rates had statistically significant effects: residents of slower-growth towns attributed higher importance to both development and preservation initiatives than did residents of faster-growing towns. Growth rate was thus a stronger predictor of attitudes toward both development and preservation than resident type.