An Exploratory Investigation of the Roles Friends Groups Play in National Park Management


  • Melissa L. Baker University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
  • Shashi Dhungel University of Maine
  • Mae E. Davenport University of Minnesota
  • Jessica E. Leahy University of Maine
  • Christopher A. Bridges University of Tennessee


community-based advocacy organizations, conservation partnerships, public land management


Community-based  advocacy  organizations  (CBOs)  have  an  increasingly visible and important function in natural and cultural resources management. This phenomenon has obvious implications for managers struggling with budget shortfalls, but also portends new agency responsibilities and perhaps a new image of public lands as being “co-managed.†This study examines CBOs associated with  national park units in the Midwestern United States. The driving research questions  include:  (1)  What  are  important  characteristics  of  CBOs?(2) What are their roles in public lands management (3) What has contributed to and constrained their success? Results indicated the organizations' primary functions are fundraising, community outreach, visitor education and volunteering. Significant challenges include fundraising, member recruitment and retention, budget constraints. This information can be used to build effective partnerships between parks and CBOs. For example, managers interested in working with CBOs should consider providing technical assistance or training in fundraising, public relations,  organization  publications, and information resources.



Regular Papers