Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to severe and widespread impacts to how outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands are managed. Outdoor recreation planners and managers can benefit from a better understanding of the magnitude and scope of these impacts and case studies of successes and challenges faced during quarantine and reopening. This Research Focus Area brings together researchers and managers to discuss lessons learned over the course of the virus’ spread across the West.
Integrating Culture and Place into Land Management and Outdoor Recreation Experiences
Place connections and biocultural heritage are integral components of people’s relationships to public lands. Public lands management would benefit from incorporating people’s connections to places into planning; this ranges from encouraging co-management with Tribes and local communities to increased promotion and representation of heritage sites, traditional activities, stewardship efforts, and other enduring cultural connections. This Research Focus Area addresses ways researchers and managers can better understand landscapes as they are seen by communities that have connected with these lands for generations, and those that continue to forge new connections.
Understanding Tourism Economies and Systems for Public Lands Planning
Public land management influences the volume, characteristics, and interests of visitors, yet is often not coordinated with broader tourism systems. Public lands management would benefit from considering the economic and social impacts of outdoor recreation at community, regional, and national levels. This includes understanding and considering social, ecological, and economic impacts of agency policies and actions regarding public lands visitation. Outdoor recreation planners and managers would benefit from recognizing the role of public lands for tourists’ and residents’ experiences, coordinating planning and decision-making with community and regional partners, and considering sustainable development goals in decision making.
Fostering connections among people, nature, and public lands
Institutional, cultural, economic, geographic, and physical barriers may prevent or limit people from connecting to natural environments. New approaches are needed to expand opportunities for human interactions with natural and cultural heritage and to equitably share ecosystem benefits with people of all backgrounds. This Research Focus Area aims to deepen our understanding of changing demographics, cultural and generational differences, different abilities, and diverse benefits of nature and outdoor recreation. This understanding will contribute towards tangible and proactive approaches that encourage all people to connect to outdoor places.