Title: Management assumptions and program realities: a case study of non-commercial fern gathering
Author: Alm, Janet E.; Blahna, Dale J.; Chavez, Deborah J.
Source: In: Chavez, Deborah J.; Winter, Patricia L.; Absher, James D., eds. Recreation visitor research: studies of diversity. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-210. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 87-96. Chapter 8
Description: In the mid-1990s, picking bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn) fiddleheads became a popular activity on the Mountaintop (formerly Arrowhead) Ranger District (MRD) of the San Bernardino National Forest in California. Concerned that fern picking was affecting the resource and that pickers were making large profits by selling the ferns, the MRD developed a program to charge a commercially based fee and limit fern picking to designated areas. Several years after implementation, MRD staff asked scientists to evaluate the program. Biologically, bracken ferns are very resistant, and there was no evidence of overpicking on the MRD. Studies also found no evidence of commercial resale of the ferns. Rather, fern gathering was a culturally-based recreational activity pursued primarily by Korean and Japanese family groups. Most participants picked for social and outdoor experiences and used the ferns in the preparation of culturally significant traditional dishes. As a result of program rules designed for commercial picking, most participants gathered many fewer pounds of ferns than they paid for. Similarly, many of the program violations resulted from the incompatibility between the commercially based rules and the pickers' recreational motivations. This case illustrates that special forest products programs and management strategies need to be based on site-specific biological and sociological factors.
Keywords: Special forest products, commercial use, recreation, race, ethnicity, bracken fern, ferns, program evaluation
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Alm, Janet E.; Blahna, Dale J.; Chavez, Deborah J. 2008. Management assumptions and program realities: a case study of noncommercial fern gathering. In: Chavez, Deborah J.; Winter, Patricia L.; Absher, James D., eds. Recreation visitor research: studies of diversity. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-210. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 87-96. Chapter 8.
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