USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
333 SW First Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service

Urban-Wildland Interactions Team

2008 Science Accomplishments

Tourism affects resident interactions with natural and social environment

Tourism brings change to coastal Alaska communities.
Tourism brings change to coastal Alaska communities.

In coastal Alaska, growth of the tourism industry affects the ways rural residents interact with their natural and social environment. Those whose livelihood or lifestyle depends on unfettered access to natural resources (e.g., fishing, subsistence) and special places found they had to share their use with tourist groups at certain times. Those whose quality of life is determined by a slower pace and small-town values were wary of the arrival of visitors and changes in the rhythm of community life during peak season. Rural residents struggled to adapt to these changes while recognizing the significant economic benefits tourism provides. Uncertainty about the pace and nature of tourism development were widely shared among tourism proponents and skeptics alike. These findings are the culmination of 4 years of ethnographic research in which 213 indepth interviews were conducted at three sites. Greater understanding of the complex ways tourism affects stakeholders and social groups in coastal Alaska may help regional tourism planners.

To learn more, contact Lee K. Cerveny at

Applying ecosystem resilience theory to communities aids understanding of social and economic changes

During the last 30 years, many rural natural-resource-dependent communities have experienced a downturn in their commodity-oriented industries and an upsurge in activities such as recreation, tourism, second-home ownership, and retirement inmigration. Scientists applied the concept of adaptive cycles from ecosystem resilience theory to display these historical changes in three amenity-transition communities: McCall, Idaho, Leavenworth, Washington, and Prineville, Oregon. Scientists interviewed key informants and used historical records and social and economic indicators to document social and economic changes in these communities since the 1950s. These changes were depicted using stages of the adaptive cycle: exploitation, conservation, release, and reorganization.

This study shows how resiliency theory and adaptive cycles can be used to identify potential community-based indicators of adaptive capacity, sources of vulnerability and resiliency, and opportunities to build adaptive capacity. This study also suggests this method may be useful for integrating social and economic change with ecological dynamics in large-scale, integrative studies of socioecological systems.

To learn more, contact Dale Blahna at

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Tuesday,26July2016 at16:43:45CDT

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