Bold Moves for Visitor Use Management: Public Health, Public Engagement and Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


  • Rachel Franchina U.S. Forest Service
  • Rachel Collins National Park Service
  • Chris Colvin U.S. Forest Service
  • Aleksandra Pitt National Park Service
  • Linda Merigliano U.S. Forest Service
  • Emily Tristant National Park Service



visitor use management, public health, public engagement, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion


Public land management is inherently complex and requires a systems approach that integrates ecological, economic, and social values. Currently, there are few tools and examples available for federal land management planning that use a systems approach. Issues are often approached from a disciplinary perspective, and outdoor recreation problems, assumptions, and solutions often focus too narrowly on how to mitigate recreation impacts as opposed to understanding the broader role of visitor use and access, public engagement, and public health in sustainable land management. The Visitor Use Management Framework (the Framework), developed by the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council (IVUMC, 2016) provides interagency guidance for managing public use on federal lands and waters. The Framework uses a process that can be incorporated into existing agency planning and decision making. It follows all of the Council agencies’ (NPS, BLM, USFS, USFWS, ACoE, NOAA) planning principles and illustrates how to specifically address visitor experiences and resource protection with an integrated planning approach. This research note explores the evolving role of the Framework in sustainable recreation management and how public health, public engagement, and representation, inclusion, and access can be incorporated throughout the Framework to ensure planning decisions meet the needs, values, and preferences of diverse user groups. Further, this paper invites a broader discussion around next steps for boldly moving to integrate public health, public engagement, and representation, inclusion, and access more fully into all aspects of visitor use management, including the Framework. Collective effort and ongoing innovation is needed to ensure that the Framework is thoughtfully implemented in ways that provide opportunities to enhance outdoor recreation access and inclusion for a broader range of people.