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Managing for wilderness experiences in the 21st Century: Responding to the recent wilderness critique

Informally Refereed
Authors: Joseph W. Roggenbuck
Year: 2012
Type: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
Source: In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 193-202.

Abstract

This essay describes five major critiques of the wilderness idea and how wilderness managers might shape experience opportunities in wilderness in response. These challenges include the notions that the wilderness idea separates people from nature, that it denies the human story in "pristine" lands, that it privileges a kind of recreation favored by elites and consumed by gadgets, that it distracts attention from the environmental crisis at home, and that wilderness management is based on an outmoded concept of naturalness. My suggestions include management directives and educational programs that encourage more intimate contact with wildness and with the resource. Educational programs must extend beyond Leave No Trace to include active partnership with managers in care of the wilderness, in programs for resource monitoring, and Adopt a Spot. Educational programs must foster experiential benefits, learning about the environment, and commitment to environmental sustainability beyond the wilderness boundaries and the visit. Researchers and managers need to focus on the meaning and facilitation of primitive experiences in wilderness, with special concern given to recent modern entertainment and communication technology in wilderness. Finally, managers, with input from an informed public, must consider alternate models to the protection of wild ecosystems and landscapes: "hands off," ecological integrity, historical fidelity, and ecological resilience.

Parent Publication

Keywords

management frameworks, recreation management, research methods, solitude, technology, visitor density, wilderness experience

Citation

Roggenbuck, Joseph W. 2012. Managing for wilderness experiences in the 21st Century: Responding to the recent wilderness critique. In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 193-202.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/40924