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Making the transition to the third era of natural resources management

Released: 2014
Citation:
Stephenson, NL. 2014. Making the transition to the third era of natural resources management. The George Wright Forum 31: 227-235

We are entering the third era of National Park Service (NPS) natural resources management—an era defined by rapid and unprecedented global changes. This third era promises to overturn not only some of our most fundamental assumptions about parks and protected areas, but also many of the ideals we currently hold dear. A common initial reaction to the diverse challenges of this transition is to feel overwhelmed and adrift; I have certainly had such feelings myself. But these feelings carry the risk of reducing our effectiveness as resource stewards right when we can least afford to be less effective: during a transition that is demanding us to be particularly clear-headed and far-seeing.

Here I briefly examine some of the challenges of this new era, focusing on those that can most often elicit feelings of discouragement. When we examine the challenges individually, they begin to lose some of their ability to cast gloom—especially when we consider them in the light of lessons from an earlier fundamental transition in NPS natural resources management, beginning a half-century ago.


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