Skip to Main Content
Chapter 8: Public lands, tourism, and community connectionsAuthor(s): Lee K. Cerveny; José J. Sánchez; Matthew Helmer; Adam Milnor
Source: In: Selin, Steven; Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Miller, Anna B., eds. 2020. Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-987. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 257 p.
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (592.0 KB)
DescriptionPublic lands and protected areas play an integral role in regional economic development—a connection often overlooked in the United States. This chapter makes the case for devoting greater attention to the role of public lands as a generator of regional tourist activity, and points to the opportunity for public land managers to collaborate with tourism industry providers, tourism promoters, and regional planning entities to ensure sustainable tourism growth.
Public lands visitation provides benefits to gateway communities in the form of jobs, expenditures, and new business development, while visitation fees often are used to support conservation goals. Parks, forests, monuments, and refuges are attractions that provide a venue for people to enjoy natural amenities and for tourism providers to earn a living facilitating these outdoor experiences. Greater acknowledgment of the economic impact of public lands visitation may help to expand support for their continued management. Tourism growth associated with public lands also can result in changes to nearby communities and put pressure on existing infrastructure. Yet, decisionmakers are not always cognizant that changes in agency policy or specific management actions can potentially affect a broad array of tourism enterprises, as well as communities dependent on the tourism industry. Sustainable tourism planning aims to minimize negative economic, social, and environmental impacts, while addressing needs of visitors, the industry, and host communities now and in the future (Mowforth and Munt 1998). Public lands add value to a regional destination and are often marketed to prospective travelers by tourism promoters and industries. Yet, not all public land managers fully acknowledge that the land they serve is part of a global tourism network, nor do they have access to current tourism industry data to allow for proactive planning. Planning and management of public lands would be enhanced by collaborative engagement from regional tourism entities and enterprises who depend on public lands.
- Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationCerveny, Lee K.; Sánchez, José J.; Helmer, Matthew; Milnor, Adam. 2020. Chapter 8: Public lands, tourism, and community connections. In: Selin, Steven; Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Miller, Anna B., eds. 2020. Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-987. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 115-132.
KeywordsOutdoor recreation, tourism, public lands, research.
- A research strategy for enhancing sustainable recreation and tourism on public lands
- Social and economic assessment of the Chugach National Forest area.
- Assessing changes in the importance of tourism in the Northeast
XML: View XML