Breath of Clarity

Comment on Knowledge and Inclusion in Natural Resource Management

Original Post by Genevieve Brune:

(I) Using close reading and reflection of the learning materials this week, define why knowledgeand inclusion matter in natural resource management.

As the readings outline this week, there is a significant lack of diversity when it comes to natural resource management. In studies of the National Park Service (NPS), it shows “that there is a lack of diversity both in park visitation and park hiring practices” (Finney 2014, 26). Someone’s preferences and choices for outdoor recreation and resource use can depend on their race and ethnicity, age, income, education level, and sex and gender (Manning 2011, 57). While all of these demographics should be addressed, the inclusion of race and ethnicity is particularly important for natural resource management because of the changing population breakdown in the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Asian American and Latino populations are growing rapidly in comparison to other racial groups (Burns et al. 2008, 123). It would be helpful for natural resource managers to gather knowledge from more groups than just the usual natural resource “experts.” Studies done in the United States concluded that locals had a ‘‘relatively good understanding of the natural world,” and it would be good for resource managers to get their input on how to manage local resources (Robbins 2006, 190).

(2) When natural resource managers are involved in collaborative resource planning and management processes, what should they do with the ideas, insights, and values that diverse stakeholders share that do not readily “align” with the usual ecology-based ways of talking and knowing about the resources? Give a concrete example to illustrate your point.

As we saw in last week’s discussion and assignment, there are a number of different stakeholders that can play a role in resource planning and management processes. Unfortunately, their roles, idea, and values do not always move together, and can sometimes even conflict with one another. This type of issue is relatively common for natural resource managers of public lands, as they have to try and balance resource management and positive visitor experiences for everyone. One example of this that comes to mind is the case of allowing snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. When this idea was first proposed, many environmental groups came out against it, in fears of vehicle exhaust, disturbing the peace, and upsetting wildlife (Shogren 2013). On the other side of it, were commercial snowmobiling companies outdoor enthusiasts who wanted to enhance their experiences at the park. While obviously not the most environmentally friendly activity, the National Park Service (NPS) had a duty to try and be inclusive. Instead of shutting down snowmobiling all together, they have tried to have both sides meet in the middle by developing rules and guidelines for snowmobiling in the park (Shogren 2013). For example, NPS limits the number of vehicles allowed per day, only allows the activity in certain time periods, and requires snowmobiles to pass certain air and noise pollution tests (Shogren 2013). When more voices are heard in natural resource management, it creates less controversy and helps managers be more successful.

(3) Based on what you read this week and last, what challenges might there be to fostering inclusion and collaboration in natural resource management, and how might these be overcome?

A number of different challenges could arise from fostering inclusion and collaboration in natural resource management. For one, there are many different perspectives and interests that do not always necessarily align. For example, studies show that white people tend to travel further out from urban areas than minorities and participate in activities, such as camping and hiking (Manning 2011, 44). Further, gender can influence the types of activities that people participate in these spaces, for example, more men engage in hunting (Manning 2011, 53). Last week’s discussion also showed how many different types of stakeholders can play a role in natural resource management, and how much their interests can conflict. These are just a couple examples of how there are many different interests and concerns, and how it can be difficult for natural resource managers to address all of them. The best way to perhaps overcome this challenge is to focus on the locals nearby the natural resources being managed. As I pointed out earlier, it is often locals who have some of the best insight on native and local resources (Robbins 2006, 190). Perhaps natural resource managers could put out surveys in the local area, or hold public meetings, to really gain a better understanding of the communities’ interests and needs, along with figuring out the best approach to managing the resources for that community.


Burns, R.C., et al. 2008. “Chapter 11: Outdoor Recreation and Nontraditional Users: Results of Focus Group Interviews With Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” General Technical Report. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Finney, Carolyn. 2014. Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. Pp. 25-31, 32-51, 67-91.

Manning, Robert E. 2011. Studies in Outdoor Recreation: Search and Research for Satisfaction. 3rd ed. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.Robbins, Paul. 2006. The Politics of Barstool Biology: Environmental Knowledge and Power in Greater Northern Yellowstone. Geoforum 37(2): 185-199.

Shogren, Elizabeth. 2013. “15 Years of Wrangling Over Yellowstone Snowmobiles Ends.” NPR.

My Comment:

Hi Genevieve,

Excellent point in saying, while all demographics should be addressed to establish diversity in natural resource management, it is particularly important to consider race and ethnicity.

The current state of racial diversity in preservation and conservation organizations is troubling as it lags far behind gender diversity (Taylor 2014). For instance, environmental organization do not effectively use the internship pipeline to hire ethnic minority workers (Taylor 2014). Though environmental organizations host ethnic minorities as interns, they have been very reluctant to hire these talented students onto their staff (Taylor 2014). As a result, there is a ruptured pipeline in which talent flows into the organizations but is allowed to dissipate out instead of being nurtured through the entire organization (Taylor 2014). Once hired in preservation and conservation organizations, ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks (Taylor 2014). In contrast, women comprised more than 60% of the new hires and half of the leadership positions in preservation and conservation organizations. That said, preservation and conservation institutions have made significant progress on gender diversity, but the gains have mostly gone to white women (Taylor 2014). Going forward, these organizations recruit new employees in ways that introduce unconscious biases and facilitate the replication of the current workforce (Taylor 2014). Despite the professed interest in increasing diversity in environmental organizations, there is a gap between the desire to see diversity initiatives developed and actually supporting such activities once they are in place (Taylor 2014). Therefore, it is clear systematic oppression of racial and ethnic minority populations is occurring in the natural resource management job sector.


Taylor, Doreceta. 2014. “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations “. University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources & Environment.