Title: Research to create public memory of wilderness
Author: Stewart, William
Source: In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 203-210.
Description: If wilderness experiences are distinct from general outdoor recreation experiences, then wilderness visitor research needs to reflect the distinction. If there are distinguishing characteristics, they would be linked to social and cultural meanings embedded in the Wilderness Act of 1964 and contemporary interpretations of it. Most research on wilderness visitor experience is conducted through psychological approaches that do not recognize social and cultural meanings, leaving open questions regarding the social and cultural relevance of any given wilderness area. Public memory is explored as a strategy to create an evolving and unique set of place meanings for a designated wilderness area. Researchers could more fully understand wilderness experience by exploring public memory. The evolving public memory of wilderness as a philosophical concept is distinguished from lack of any public memory for a given wilderness area. The point of public memory is not to preserve the past, but to adapt it in ways that are relevant to the present. There are three sources of information on which to base public memory of wilderness: (1) the reason for designation embedded in wilderness legislation which has led to a national narrative of all wilderness areas as places untrammeled by humans, (2) the story of the designation of the given area and changes in operations that have been generated due to wilderness management regimes, and (3) connections to experiences of visitors and the memories they share. The latter two sources of information have largely been neglected, privileging the public memory that coincides with the national narrative of wilderness. A strategy to create public memory would be a three-step process to share stories of wilderness experiences, engage others to react and comment on the shared stories, and build a credible set of narratives from the engaged public to fit a specific wilderness area.
Keywords: management frameworks, recreation management, research methods, solitude, technology, visitor density, wilderness experience
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Stewart, William 2012. Research to create public memory of wilderness. In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 203-210..