Breath of Clarity

Recreation and Tourism Frameworks

Several frameworks exist for providing recreation opportunities on public lands. These include the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum, Limits of Acceptable Change, Visitor Experience and Resource Protection, Visitor Impact Management, and Benefits-Based Management (McCool et al. 2007). The report traces the development of each of these frameworks, describes the fundamental premises and concepts used within them, and provides an assessment of the experience with their use (McCool et al. 2007). Each of the frameworks has been used with varying success, depending on the organization’s will, its technical capacity, the extent to which the process is inclusive of varying value systems, how open and deliberative the process is, the extent to which the organization is concerned with effectiveness, and the extent to which issues are confronted at the systems level (McCool et al. 2007). However, according to the authors, the U.S. Forest Service is dedicated to the principle of multiple use management (McCool et al. 2007). The multiple use approach limits frameworks to being evolutionary instead of revolutionary. From the get go, ecological balance is not the absolute top concern, which prohibits massive reworking of the management system. McCool et al. (2007) emphasized that until managers become aware of the large-scale trends and driving forces forming their decision making, they will not be able to work through issues in a revolutionary manner. For example, the authors explained that increased demand that public lands provide commercialized recreation opportunities have led to conceptualizing management as one of identifying a carrying capacity for recreation, and then allocating such capacity between commercial and public visitors (McCool et al. 2007). Such a simplistic representation of a complex problem follows from a lack of organization capacity needed to properly frame and respond to the problem (McCool et al. 2007). The decisions occur in a set of stages: policy, planning and implementation (McCool et al. 2007). Logically, the former stages precede the latter, although in development and implementation in the chaotic world of natural resource, such a rational representation is inappropriate (McCool et al. 2007). The iterative essence of the process is evolutionary and does not yield success as much as a revolutionary framework for a world characterized by uncertainty.

As the Parks and Recreation Master Planning video stated, since the master plan is consistent with the local government’s policy agenda, it’s foundation cannot be revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary unless the local government’s agenda drastically changes. Master plans also use the same organization framework for each project. So, it cannot be revolutionary because doing so would deviate from its inherent organizational structure. The video listed a benefit of the master plans being the way it enables the local governments to prioritize certain resources (Parks and Recreation Master Planning). That statement reminded me of the Endangered Species Act implementation. Until local governments stop prioritizing and start brainstorming innovative solutions to address all resource needs, frameworks will continue to be evolutionary and not revolutionary. The video also noted a benefit of the master plan is building consensus amongst stakeholders (Parks and Recreation Master Planning). However, I could see a potential problem in that being a shutting out of outlier ideas that do not align with the majority’s mentality. A planning strategy is more likely to stay on the path its on, which is more so evolutionary, than be revolutionary if it is focused on reaching a consensus. Also, as long as similar degrees of fiscal requirements exist, plans are going to be limited by the fundraising it can collect. Rather, to be more revolutionary, planning frameworks need to brainstorm alternative fundraising methods. Until new fundraising methods are cultivated, frameworks are going to be limited to being evolutionary in terms of finding new funders that fit existing types of internal (assessments, capital improvement programs, user fees, bonds) and external methods (federal and state grants, foundations, Friends associations, developer contributions or fee-in-lieu requirements, improvements or benefit districts, corporate sponsorship) instead of being revolutionary by coming up with alternative strategies. Appropriate frameworks would help avoid lost opportunities to ensure optimal benefits flow from public lands (McCool et al. 2007).


McCool, Stephen F., Clark, Roger N., and Stankey, George. 2007. “An assessment of frameworks useful for public land recreation planning.” Gen. Tech Rep. PNW-GTR-705. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific. DOI:

YouTube. Parks and Recreation Master Planning. Accessed on May 2 2021.

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Great summary and statement, Mary. Why do you think there is or has to be a dichotomy between evolutionary and revolutionary? Is there not a possible middle ground where the two approaches can come together to provide optimum management planning?

My Comment:

Phenomenal questions! The crucial distinguishing factor between evolutionary and revolutionary is that the former describes change without interference in the current trajectory while the later conveys change involving interference to the current trajectory. Without considering the dichotomy between the two, there would be no flipping of the tables in how things are done. Evolutionary is based upon honoring tradition and trusting that improvement will come without complete reworking of a respected system. However, there needs to be a dichotomy between the two so that managers do not become complacent in severely shifting conditions such as climate change. The revolutionary approach is fueled by purpose and values which can often be forgotten if the track of actions is not challenged by anybody for years and years. As I mentioned in the post, a revolutionary approach is useful in redefining a problem and creating a new foundation for solutions to a redefined problem. Still, there is a possible middle ground where the two approaches can come together to provide optimum management planning. The revolutionary approach can be utilized to rework programs that are fundamentally unsound and the evolutionary approach can be used to consistently carry out the newly found policies and implementation frameworks. For example, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) needs fundamental improvement in terms of listing and delisting policies and such. From there, the more strict evolutionary approach can be leveraged to ensure there are no exceptions to carrying out the sound policies. In the ESA’s case, it would entail equal resources being allocated to the species who have been scientifically identified as having a similar degree of conservation needs. So, distinguishing evolutionary from revolutionary is crucial for the latter to be recognized. Then, from there, the two approaches can collaborate to achieve optimal results.

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Great statement, Mary, and very well reasoned and constructed.