A USDA Forest Service group to advance sustainable recreation and tourism within the agency.
How can [users-visitors-recreationists] have a positive effect on forest ecology?
June 28, 2009 at 3:44 am #74896
John ‘Fender’ DiefenderferParticipant
For scientists concerned about impacts to the environment: water-wildlife-soils-timber-etc. the visitor is often seen as the problem. How can the visitor help the scientist?
June 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm #74908
Toni Stafford NewbyParticipant
As a former interpreter, I say never underestimate the power of converting visitors to stewards. If an individual has a deeply positive experience in the woods s/he could, over time, begin to become an active steward of the land. That could manifest in myriad ways.
But it does take time. The family from Chicago who learns about cryptobiotic soils in Arizona might not ever have a positive impact on desert soils… but, maybe they feel so renewed and refreshed by nature that they begin recycling, donate money to environmental organizations, buying local organic foods, volunteer to care for land in Illinois, and send their kids off to college to study ecology.
Changes like this are rippling out across the land. Every time someone recreates there is a chance that the experience will re-create their entire view of the nexxus between the land, communities, and economy.
June 29, 2009 at 7:14 pm #74906
If we’re being honest, we have to say that almost all outdoor recreation does impact the land in some way. The fundamental question though, isn’t ‘how do we prevent that’, but what role should the Forest Service play in providing outdoor recreation opportunities and how do we minimize negative environmental impacts.
If we don’t believe humans are part of the natural ecosystem, then we should just all live in cities and do our best to remove ourselves from the natural landscape. If we believe we ARE part of the ecosystem and we simply have a responsibility to steward, then we can have a discussion.
A fairly recent Green Gauge study shows that most Americans who believe we should protect the environment state ‘protecting human health’ and ‘protecting resources for future generations’ as the reason why. Both of these have a connotation of humans actually ‘using’ the environment (tho health can be much broader than that). In addition, the same study shows that 78% believe outdoor recreation has a good or no effect on the environment, whereas only 11% believe it has a bad effect.
All of that is to say we manage public lands for public use and recreation IS the framework through which most people use national forest lands. Yet — most also are willing to understand their responsibility in preserving the land for future generations. Our responsibility (and I actually think we do this fairly well) is to work with communities, partners, etc. to figure out how to best offer desired opportunities, and still address those environmental concerns.
So, I think that the visitor can help the scientist by showing that they aren’t in opposition — most people do have the same goals. Find the common ground and work from there.
June 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm #74904
By exercising that most uncommon human trait: COMMON SENSE!
July 9, 2009 at 6:37 pm #74902
This topic of humans’ role in the environment has always struck me as kind of odd. If an animal uproots a tree, it’s okay. However, if a human cuts one down, it’s bad. If lightning starts a fire, that’s nature at work. If a human starts a fire, it’s destructive. And as a kid the one that always stumped me was why does a human have to dig a 6 inch hole to bury waste while every other animal is okay not… (For the record, I prefer not seeing tp flowers so I don’t object). It’s an interesting dichotomy though (at least to me). I get that humans have the capacity to create great amounts/intensity of destruction; I’ve just never understood the philosophy that we aren’t part of the natural world.
That being said, I wholeheartedly agree that users-visitors-recreationists should be good stewards of the land, but I think we need to work on the scientists as well. I think Uncle Ben said it best, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
August 6, 2009 at 10:52 pm #74900
David A. BowlerParticipant
From my own personal experience I can offer two observations. Toni’s comment shows how a small thing may amount to a big change. I was once riding across the desert and threw an apple core out the truck window. I made a comment about disposing of a biodegradable apple. A man I was riding with told of how a park ranger had mentioned once that an apple core can last for 10 years before it “degrades”. I don’t throw apples cores out the window any more. Come to thing of it, its been a long time since I last threw anything out the window. I even on occasion recycle a plastic bottle.
On another occasion I was riding ATVs with a group of friends and we were sharing experiences. I told of trouble we had getting from the end of one trail back to where we had left our truck. It seems we had to ride for 5 miles down a highway to get back to the trailhead. One of the people we were with asked why we didn’t just make a new trail along the side of the road. I told him him I felt that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
Education brings a change of attitude. But as Toni said, the education must come from a positive experience and it takes time.
August 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm #74898
Floyd A. Thompson, III (Tom)Participant
One of the glories of the conservation movement these days is we are making progress. The partenrship with industry in the “tread lightly” campaign and the “Leave No Trace” training and logos is a good testimony to the partnerships in these programs. Also, the recent work with National Geographic to launch the Geo-tourism principles for good sustianable destination management is a recognition by a major media gaint that “brand” responsibility matters and NGS wants to work to see that the Authentic places they promote today will be there and better in the future, and that local people can benefit from tourism–not be victims of its impacts– So we are making progress and the USFS efforts to launch a dialogue in making better community engagament around sustainable Recreation and Tourism is all part of the trends. How can we better expand the circle of dialogue for sustianable living.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.