Continued wilderness participation: Experience and identity as long-term relational phenomena

In David N. Cole (ed.), Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; April 4-7, 2011 (pp. 21-36); Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fort Collins, CO, USA: USDA Forest service. pp. 21-36 (2012)
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Understanding the relationship between wilderness outings and the resulting experience has been a central theme in resource-based, outdoor recreation research for nearly 50 years. The authors provide a review and synthesis of literature that examines how people, over time, build relationships with wilderness places and express their identities as consequences of multiple, ongoing wilderness engagements (i.e., continued participation). The paper reviews studies of everyday places and those specifically protected for wilderness and backcountry qualities. Beginning with early origins and working through contemporary research the authors synthesize what diverse social scientists have learned about the long-term and continual nature of wilderness participation and its impact on the formation of identity. The thrust of the paper points researchers, planners, and managers in non-traditional directions and reframes goals and objectives for visitor planning and management in wilderness and other protected areas.
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