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Parks Stewardship Forum delivers interdisciplinary information and problem-solving techniques across all topics relevant to the world’s parks, protected areas, cultural sites, and other forms of place-based conservation. The journal represents all areas of inquiry relevant to understanding and management of parks, protected areas, cultural sites, and other forms of place-based conservation, including but not limited to the natural sciences, cultural resources-related disciplines, social sciences, and interdisciplinary perspectives. 

Humanizing the Seas: A Case for Integrating the Arts and Humanities into Ocean Literacy and Stewardship

Issue cover
Cover Caption: "Plastic Catch," porcelain sculpture by Susan Schultz
This issue’s featured theme papers make the case that the arts and humanities can and should play a much larger role in marine education and conservation.

Masthead and Table of Contents

Masthead and Table of Contents

The masthead and table of contents for Parks Stewardship Forum vol. 36, no. 3 (published September 15, 2020).

Points of View

A more complete story

This "Letter from Woodstock" editorial column considers current events in the USA and their relation to the story the US National Park Service tells about its origins.

Cultural consciousness about marine conservation: The multiracial experience as an emerging ecosystem

This "Coloring Outside the Lines" editorial column makes connections between the experience of multiracial people and marine conservation.

Theme Articles

Humanizing the seas: A case for integrating the arts and humanities into ocean literacy and stewardship

An introduction by the Guest Editor to "Humanizing the seas: A case for integrating the arts and humanities into ocean literacy and stewardship," a set of articles arguing that arts and humanities can and should play a greater role in marine education and conservation.

Ocean literacy and public humanities

This paper frames a series of contributions that both argue for the need to integrate the humanities into ocean literacy and stewardship and provide examples of public humanities projects that contribute to this goal. This introductory piece examines the history of the development and subsequent international adoption of ocean literacy principles, then analyzes the content of the ocean literacy framework to reveal that the humanities and arts are largely absent. Ocean history, or couched more broadly, the “blue humanities,” can enrich the goals and achievements of ocean literacy. The existence of the ocean literacy framework, and particularly its grassroots origin and culture, invites humanists to contribute to the much-needed project of historicizing our human relationship with the ocean. If we hope to address present environmental challenges, the humanities must complement the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and policy foci of existing articulations of ocean literacy. The public humanities and arts stand to contribute importantly to addressing this lacuna, in part because ocean literacy is aimed at public audiences rather than specialists or academic groups. The urgency of ocean-related environmental challenges heightens the need for humanists to become involved, because ocean literacy must be taught not only through traditional educational institutions but to all members of the global community.

Using ships’ logbooks to document the changing natural world

Mystic Seaport Museum has taken an active role in making historical archives, especially first-hand accounts such as logbooks, more accessible to researchers. We believe that digitizing such materials and making them easily available online helps modern-day scientists understand the changing nature of the marine environment over centuries. The use of multiple personal accounts was important to Matthew Fontaine Maury, the “Pathfinder of the Seas” and head of the US Naval Observatory in the mid-19th century, and others attempting to get an understanding of the ocean’s currents and physical make-up. These materials add to the knowledge base necessary to make informed decisions going forward and promote the principles of Ocean Literacy, knowing that the ocean influences our lives, and we influence the health of the ocean.

Immersing the arts: Integrating the arts into ocean literacy

This article tracks efforts to diversify Connecticut Sea Grant’s funding portfolio with an arts-focused award program and examines the implications of that effort. For over ten years, CTSG has supported its Arts Award Support Program, funding one or more individual artists or a collective each year. The program has led to a ten-year retrospective exhibition of the works of awarded artists and spawned a series of associated artist’s talks and transdisciplinary panels. Broadening ocean literacy to incorporate the arts and “blue humanities” leads to a richer and more robust knowledge of the ocean, enhances the process of learning and becoming ocean literate, and can generate value-driven or emotional responses that may catalyze conservation ethics. More research is needed to assess empirically the impact of the arts on ocean stewardship and conservation behaviors.

Integrating maritime heritage and ocean literacy: Free-choice learning along the Connecticut Blue Heritage Trail

This article introduces the Connecticut Blue Heritage Trail, an interdisciplinary public outreach project conceived by Maritime Studies Program faculty at the University of Connecticut. The Blue Heritage Trail focuses on human connections to Connecticut’s marine environments, maritime economy, culture, and heritage, and aims to increase ocean literacy through free-choice learning. The project benefits from partnerships and collaborations with local outreach organizations, academic institutions, and historical societies, and encourages public engagement to promote a deeper understanding of ocean literacy and ocean stewardship. Beebe Pond Park and Mamacoke Conservation Area are examined in this paper in order to highlight the ubiquitous connections found between Connecticut’s maritime communities and geographical locations, and to illustrate the Ocean Literacy principle that “the ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.” Facilitating the public understanding of this interconnectivity reinforces the importance of the ocean’s impact on individuals and communities and encourages engaged conversations and increased conservation efforts.

Resilience in the midst of rising waters: Maritime museums face the future

Mystic Seaport Museum, an outdoor maritime museum on the East Coast, faces the increasingly disruptive impact of sea level rise on its riverfront property, impeding programs, threatening historic structures, and damaging infrastructure such as docks and utilities. In the midst of a global pandemic, maritime sites that practice public history need to increase their resilience to coastal threats by collaborating, being publicly transparent, and demonstrating the relevance of maritime heritage to our present and future.

Introduction: The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook

An introduction to a selection of articles republished from The Inclusive Historian's Handbook. A free, online resource, the Handbook is sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History. Its goals are to: (1) share a knowledge base that invites more people to engage in history projects; (2) provide concrete examples of how to make history work more relevant; (3) center equity, inclusivity, diversity, and public service; and (4) offer accessible windows into the many ways public historians work. inclusivehistorian.com

Diversity and inclusion

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Collaborative practice

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Heritage tourism

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

US presidents

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Reconstruction

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Lost Cause myth

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Memorials and monuments

An essay republished from The Inclusive Historian’s Handbook, a free, online resource, sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Council on Public History (inclusivehistorian.com).

Habitat connectivity and island biogeography: A call for community-engaged scholarship to address isolated parks and protected areas

Using the theory of island biogeography as a framework, we seek to determine the potential impact of the lack of connectivity between parks and protected areas on large-scale conservation efforts. We analyze lessons learned from the current Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) initiative and develop recommendations to improve connectivity while incorporating the motivations, needs, and emotions of stakeholder groups. We strongly encourage ecologists, geographers, biologists, and other academics and activists to partake wholly and enthusiastically in community-engaged scholarship through outreach, capacity building, and social capital building through the proven frameworks of consensus-based and structured decisionmaking. Further, we argue that large-scale conservation initiatives may greatly benefit from an approach focused on small, more tangible actions when working toward a larger goal. As human populations and urban–wildland interfaces continue to grow rapidly, former models of park and protected area development become increasingly ineffective. We must adopt new strategies, such as those listed here, in order to increase landscape connectivity and provide effective conservation for all species. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

A holistic strategy for carbon reduction programs in parks and protected areas: Leveraging three “fixes”

Anthropogenic climate change is a systemic threat to conservation goals and society at large, and parks and protected areas (PPAs) are uniquely positioned to play an important role in mitigating this crisis. Reducing global carbon emissions is critical for tackling climate change and we believe PPAs serve an important role in facilitating these reductions. Drawing from Thomas Heberlein’s framing of cognitive, technological, and structural fixes, and particularly the lesson that the most effective approaches include all three, we discuss ways that PPA managers can leverage each fix to reduce global carbon emissions. We present the three fixes as pillars of a holistic carbon emission mitigation approach in PPAs and use examples to contextualize each type of fix. However, each PPA is characterized by context-dependent attributes that require climate change “fixes” to be tailored to unique social, cultural, physical, and natural conditions for maximizing long-term sustainable solutions. Therefore, managers who seek to implement or expand carbon emission mitigation strategies may refer to this article, and the examples included herein, as a framework to identify the strengths of their current approaches and to explore areas that can be further developed. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

Responding to COVID-19 and future times of uncertainty: Challenges and opportunities associated with visitor use, management, and research in parks and protected areas

In March 2020, many United States-based parks and protected area (PPA) managers implemented disease control measures (e.g., park and facility closures) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. This thought-piece considers expected transformations in PPAs during unprecedented circumstances. We employ a challenges and opportunities framework to explain pandemic-induced alterations in visitor accessibility, PPA management, and scientific research. We acknowledge the complex difficulties that visitors, managers, and researchers may experience during pandemics and provide a listing of opportunities that result from these challenges. We suggest that PPA managers explore alternative solutions that maintain recreation access during future times of uncertainty. Maintaining access allows PPAs to continue serving as places for healthy recreation and restoration for park visitors and may create new opportunities for visitors, managers, and researchers. We underline the necessity to include human disease impacts into adaptive management frameworks and the shifting needs for current and prospective research. These details can affect the availability and accessibility of PPAs, how managers approach and adapt to unusual circumstances, and the focus of future recreation research. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

Rediscovering our roots: Steps to increase accessibility to and acceptance of people of color in America’s national parks

The United States’ history is marred by systemic oppression, even within parks and protected areas, including national parks. Major barriers for people of color to public lands include accessibility, welcomeness, and safety concerns. Although national parks are one of the nation’s greatest ideas, and while the National Park Service states that diversity and inclusion are priorities, it has not been wholly successful in creating meaningful change to reach these goals. This article examines some of the National Park Service’s efforts to diversify visitation demographics and offers recommendations on how to further increase and diversify visitors to the national park system. This is not intended to discredit the National Park Service, but rather to offer suggestions and context for ways it can remain relevant as our nation deals with times of uncertainty. Alleviating transportation constraints, providing adequate opportunities for non-white recreation and personal experiences, and transitioning from Eurocentric narratives within historical interpretation to local, minority-driven narratives are the main recommendations. The purpose of this article is to illuminate the vitality of accessibility and unbiased historical interpretation as means to increase diversity of visitation to national parks. As such, while this article focuses on the National Park Service, it is intended to benefit any public land-managing agency aiming to remain relevant to its constituents. Movement away from Eurocentric historical narratives and recreational activities is beneficial to all as a means to catalyze empathy and understanding for every American’s lived experience. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

Harnessing a multifaceted stewardship framework: A bare necessity for parks and protected areas

In parks and protected area conservation, research is underway to understand the elements and mechanisms of environmental stewardship and to evaluate its effectiveness as a management tool for conservation. Across the country, protected area managers, scientists, concerned citizens and communities are trying to harness stewardship actions to mitigate systemic threats to parks and other protected areas. Through developing and engaging with a stewardship framework approach (i.e., an organized, collaboratively supported, and enduring system of stewardship actions), protected area managers can engage a variety of motivated people to collaboratively care for a protected area, creating a win–win solution for park resource users and managers. Recent advances in sustainability science and environmental stewardship address the development of stewardship mechanisms through novel analytical frameworks. Collectively, the framework approach can help protected area managers make actions and initiatives more effective and meaningful to the individuals or communities involved by helping to unravel the multifaceted nature of environmental stewardship. Specifically, we seek to advance the understanding, relevance, and utility of the Bennett et al. (2018) and Enqvist et al. (2018) stewardship frameworks for park and protected area management and conservation efforts. In doing so, we also offer potentially new, interdisciplinary perspectives and management considerations for leveraging actions that serve to bolster environmental stewardship as a concept, practice, and research focus for parks and protected areas. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

When green is blue: Perspectives on inclusivity and recommendations towards reforming and demilitarizing law enforcement in US national parks

Park and protected area management has a rich history of discourse, in both scholarly and managerial realms, concerning the role and public perceptions of law enforcement. For as long as national parks have existed in the United States, they have been patrolled and protected by those in uniform. Although National Park Service law enforcement rangers primarily are concerned with protection of resources, their duties continue to evolve with changes in park use trends and societal and technological advances. This paper examines how the strong presence of law enforcement in national parks impacts the diverse visitor and provides recommendations for reform. Even while the National Park Service and its partners examine outreach initiatives to attract diverse visitors, law enforcement may serve as a constraint on doing so. As the world turns its attention to policing in the United States and recent uprisings in response to the George Floyd slaying, a rigid approach to national park law enforcement in the Hashtag Era will continue to serve as a hindrance to diversity in national parks⁠—unless considerable change is undertaken. [This is a paper from “Systemic Threats to Parks & Protected Areas,” the 2020 George Wright Society Student Summit.]

New Perspectives (Non-Peer Reviewed)

A new decision support tool for collaborative adaptive vegetation management in northern Great Plains national parks

National Park Service (NPS) units in the northern Great Plains (NGP) were established to preserve and interpret the history of America, protect and showcase unusual geology and paleontology, and provide a home for vanishing large wildlife. A unifying feature among these national parks, monuments, and historic sites is mixed-grass prairie, which not only provides background scenery but is the very foundation of many park missions. As recognition of the prairie’s importance to park fundamental resources and values has grown, so too has the realization that invasive plants threaten these values by reducing native species diversity, altering food webs, and marring the visitor experience. Parks manage invasive species despite uncertainties in treatment effectiveness because management cannot wait for research to provide definitive answers. Under these circumstances, adaptive management (AM) is an appropriate approach. In the NGP, we formed a collaborative adaptive vegetation management team to apply AM towards reducing invasive species (with a focus on exotic annual grasses) and improving native vegetation conditions. In our AM framework, the team uses a Bayesian model built from NPS Inventory & Monitoring and Fire Effects monitoring data and experimental results to predict the effects of management actions on park management units, according to those units’ vegetation condition and management history. These predictions inform management decisions, which are then applied.

Advances in Research and Management (Peer-Reviewed)

Factors influencing perceived appropriateness of concessioner activity in Grand Teton National Park

Concessioner-provided services are integral to the national park visitor experience, and date back to the origins of the National Park Service (NPS). With visitation across NPS units growing steadily over time, services provided by these public–private partnerships will likely only increase in importance. Despite the critical role of concessioners, concerns exist regarding the presence of for-profit entities within national parks. While private businesses may be more responsive to consumer wants and needs, their presence raises questions regarding equity, resource protection, and over-commercialization, while potentially eroding public perceptions of ownership and investment in these protected areas. With this in mind, the purpose of the present study was to assess factors that may influence visitors’ perceptions of appropriateness regarding current and future concessioner activities, using data from visitors to Grand Teton National Park (GRTE). Regression analysis found no significant predictors of perceived appropriateness of current concessioner activity. Several significant predictors of anticipated appropriateness of future concessions activities emerged, however. Respondents who believed that there would be more concessioner activity in the future felt that such an increase would lead to an inappropriately high amount of commercial activity at GRTE. In addition, social liberalism, economic conservatism, and place identity were also related to a belief that there would be inappropriately high levels of concessioner activity in the future. Place dependence, knowledge regarding the role of concessioners at GRTE, and trust in GRTE were not significant predictors. Implications for future research, as well as for decisionmakers, are discussed.

Grizzly bear restoration and economic restructuring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Reformers of the US Endangered Species Act often present its protections as a hindrance to economic prosperity in rural counties by placing the welfare of animals above that of people. This position suggests that lost livestock grazing, restrictive land and water use regulations, and compromised property rights preclude human well-being. This may be particularly acute in western states where large predator conservation requires many acres of pristine habitat embedded in a mosaic of public and private lands. This paper examines the proposition by analyzing the result of conservation of an apex predator—the Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)—and its impact on human economic well-being in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The conclusion is that, in this case, such conservation policy did not foreclose human prosperity. Rather, conservation is associated with gains in economic welfare of residents.

Response to “Grizzly bear restoration and economic restructuring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem”

A commentary on Jerry Johnson's article “Grizzly bear restorationand economic restructuring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” in this issue of Parks Stewardship Forum (vol. 36, no. 3, 2020).

Reply to Gaines Quammen

A reply to a commentary on the author's “Grizzly bear restorationand economic restructuring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” published in this issue of Parks Stewardship Forum (vol. 36, no. 3, 2020).

The Photographer's Frame

Parks in Focus: Inspiring the next generation of park stewards

A photoessay in "The Photographer's Frame" department of Parks Stewardship Forum devoted to the Parks in Focus program of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. Parks in Focus (a registered trademark of the foundation) connects youth from underserved and under-represented communities to America’s public lands through photography and outdoor learning.

Verse in Place

The Gargantuan Arm

A contribution to PSF's "Verse in Place."  Each issue features a poem that explores the power of place in the world.