Stakeholder Perceptions of Collaboration for Managing Nature-Based Recreation in a Coastal Protected Area in Alaska
Keywords:Collaboration, partnerships, trust, stakeholders, protected areas, wilderness, recreation
AbstractVoluntary codes of conduct and best management practices are increasingly popular methods for addressing impacts of recreation and tourism in protected areas. In southeast Alaska, for example, a collaborative stakeholder process has been used for creating, implementing, and managing the voluntary Wilderness Best Management Practices (WBMP) for the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness to address impacts associated with shore and marine based use in this area, especially from cruise ships. This article examines: (a) stakeholder motivations for collaborating in this WBMP process; (b) the extent that this process has affected relationships among participating stakeholders, especially with respect to issues such as communication and trust; and (c) how commercial tour operators and local residents perceive the role of agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service in mediating the WBMP process. Data were obtained from 28 semistructured interviews with commercial tour operators, cruise industry representatives, U.S. Forest Service personnel, and residents. Results showed that the primary reason for participating was because the WBMP involved voluntary management of behavior in contrast with externally imposed regulations found in other nearby areas (e.g., Glacier Bay National Park). The WBMP process was perceived by stakeholders as an opportunity to be equal participants in voluntary rulemaking, as opposed to passive recipients of mandatory regulations. The WBMP process has enhanced collaborative stakeholder relationships by improving communication and dialogue, and instilling an ethic of compromise and sharing. Lack of trust, however, was a concern, especially between smaller tour operators and cruise lines due to a perception that the cruise industry is not following all of the specific WBMP guidelines. There was also concern regarding how inclusive the WBMP process should be, as many cruise line representatives felt that local residents should not be allowed to participate. Despite these issues and its infancy, the WBMP process appears to be a successful collaborative approach for helping to manage this coastal protected area.
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