Call for Papers: Special Issue–Sustainability and Outdoor Recreation Management on Public Lands: New Directions

Special Issue

Sustainability and Outdoor Recreation Management on Public Lands:  

New Directions

Deadline: February 15, 2021 (Full papers due)

Guest Editors:

Lee Cerveny, US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station

Steve Selin, West Virginia University

Wayde Morse, Auburn University 

Dale Blahna, US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station

Brijesh Thapa, University of Florida


Why is managing outdoor recreation and tourism sustainably so important for public lands? How do we accommodate growing and diversifying uses of public lands, while enhancing natural and cultural resources? Outdoor experiences are important for cultural, social, health, spiritual, ecological, and economic reasons, many of which are related to people’s values, identity, well-being, and livelihoods (Selin et al., 2020). When managed well, recreation contributes economic benefits, bolsters rural communities, and supports local livelihoods and enduring cultures, heritage, and identities. Sustainable recreation management involves the provision of desirable outdoor opportunities for all people, in a way that supports ecosystems, contributes to healthy communities, promotes equitable economies, respects culture and traditions, and develops stewardship values now and for future generations (Cerveny et al., 2020).  

While sustainability has been conceptualized and operationalized in myriad ways, implementation of sustainable recreation policy and practice has not yet been fully realized in public lands management. Sustainable recreation management requires new tools, models, and planning approaches that integrate sustainability principles into management practices. It requires new paradigms and ways of thinking that breaks down silos and favors an integrated, socioecological approach. Promoting sustainability requires active collaboration, citizen participation, equity and inclusion, shared stewardship, capacity building, and both efficient and effective governance. Sustainable recreation management can enhance shared leadership roles for agencies, communities, and partners in developing shared stewardship values.

Public land management agencies have been challenged, as never before, to manage outdoor recreation sustainably. Climate change, invasive species, and global pandemics, change the way that humans respond to and rely on the natural environment. Organizational challenges have spawned a new generation of sustainable recreation management “experiments” as agencies explore more creative ways to design, finance, manage, and monitor outdoor recreation use on public lands (Selin, 2017). Many standard concepts and approaches for managing and monitoring recreation are based on outdated assumptions that focus singularly on human impacts, conflicts, constraints or benefits rather than understanding recreation as part of a dynamic social-ecological system (Morse, 2020). Public land agencies seek ways to understand and incorporate different cultural meanings and linkages to the land, foster diversity, equity and inclusion, co-manage lands with multiple partners, and consider community and ecological resilience. 

This proposed issues examines the growing significance of outdoor recreation on public lands and discuss strategies for managing this use sustainably. We build off of previous JPRA special issues that focus on sustainable places (2003) and sustainability principles (2011) to take these ideals one step further through conversations around sustainable practices and policies. We aim to contribute knowledge from leaders in recreation science toward this foundation of sustainability, while providing more clarity, conscientious thinking, and conceptual development that aims to enhance implementation of sustainable recreation in public lands management. Our goal is to showcase emerging theories, technologies, best practices, and analytic tools being used to assess, monitor, and support sustainable recreation programs and practices. We seek contributions around the following topics: 

•Sustainable recreation concepts, methods, and tools for public lands management

•Socioecological systems approaches to recreation ecology

•Recreation economies and community well-being 

•Culture, heritage, and indigenous leadership in recreation management 

•Diversity, equity, access, and inclusion in outdoor recreation 

•Managing public resources to protect and enhance human health

•Building and sustaining outdoor recreation management capacity 

•Collaboration and shared stewardship for sustainable management

•Operationalizing, measuring, and monitoring sustainable recreation


•July 10, 2020: Open call for papers

•October 1, 2020: Expression of interest–abstracts due

•October 30, 2020: Response about status of work

•February 15, 2021: Submission of full papers by author(s)

•December 15, 2021: Approximate publication of special issue

Submission Instructions and Key Dates:

Please send proposed paper title, name of author(s), and an abstract (300 words) to the guest editors, Drs. Lee Cerveny ( and Steven Selin ( by October 1, 2020. Authors will be notified by October 30, 2020 if they will be invited to submit a full paper.

Full manuscripts need to follow the format instructions for the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration ( and will undergo the normal blind review process with three reviewers. The deadline for submission of full papers is February 15, 2021. All accepted papers will be available immediately as an Online First publication on the journal’s website. The special edition compilation volume is tentatively scheduled for publication in December 2021. If invited by guest editors to submit a full paper, manuscripts should be submitted online and specify that it is for the special issue. If you have any questions, please contact:


Lee Cerveny, Research Social Scientist

USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station

Seattle, WA 98103 

Steven Selin, Professor

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV 26506 


Cerveny, L. K., Derrien, M. M., Miller, A. B. (2020). Igniting the science of outdoor recreation: A research strategy for sustainable recreation and tourism on public lands. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-991. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 152 p.

Morse, W. C. (2020). Recreation as a social-ecological complex adaptive system. Sustainability, 12(3), 753. 

Selin, S., Cerveny, L. K., Blahna, D. J., Miller, A. B. (Eds.). (2020). Igniting research for outdoor recreation: Linking science, policy, and action. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-987. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 257 p.

Selin, S. (2017). Operationalizing sustainable recreation across the National Forest System: A qualitative content analysis of six regional strategies. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 35(3), 34–44.