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In early September, the Stegner Center joined with the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and the Consensus Building Institute to co-host a National Policy Dialogue on Outdoor Recreation on the Public Lands. The Policy Dialogue brought together virtually 40 prominent individuals involved in outdoor recreation to identify and propose solutions to the mounting challenges associated with the rapidly expanding public interest in outdoor recreation. The Dialogue participants hailed from the outdoor industry, federal land management agencies, state outdoor recreation offices, Native American and other diverse groups, conservation organizations, off-road vehicle groups, and local government officials.

The impetus for the Dialogue emerged from a growing concern that recreational activities are presenting serious new environmental and other management challenges for federal officials, due in part to the transition toward a recreation and tourism-based economy in an increasing number of western communities. The participants explored such issues as overcrowding, diversity and inclusion concerns, conservation values, new policy, planning, and partnership opportunities, and agency funding needs. A report capturing the dialogue’s conclusions and recommendations will be forthcoming.

Stegner Center Director Bob Keiter joined with Rebecca Watson, William Barquin, Matt McKinney, and Pat Field on a five-person planning team for the dialogue. The Stegner Center’s 2019 annual symposium on “Recreation Challenges on Public Lands” served as an important catalyst for the dialogue. Matt McKinney from the University of Montana and Pat Field from the Consensus Building Institute facilitated the Dialogue, assisted by students from the Quinney College of Law and the University of Montana. The dialogue was supported by funding from the AHE/CI foundation and the Consensus Building Institute, for which the organizers are most grateful. Dialogue participants intend to continue pursuing the issue as a group.