Logos for USDA, Forest Service, and RMRS Link to USDA Forest Service Link to U.S. Department of Agriculture Link to Rocky Mountain Research Station

A group of the Human Dimensions Program



Selected Projects

A Primer on Nonmarket Valuation

Discussion Papers




How to Contact Us

Dr. Daniel R. Williams


(970) 498-2561 * Fax (970) 498-1212

Social Scientist

Research Interests

Selected Projects

Selected Publications

Discussion & Presentation Papers

Daniel R. Williams is a Research Social Scientist with the Human Dimensions Science Program of Rocky Mountain Research Station. He received a Ph.D. degree in Forest Resources from the University of Minnesota in 1984 and holds forestry degrees from Utah State University and University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to joining the Rocky Mountain Research Station in 1998, Dr. Williams held faculty positions with University of Illinois, Virginia Tech, and the University of Utah. He also served as editor of the journal Leisure Sciences from 1993-1998 and in the spring of 1999 was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar with the Eastern Norway Research Institute in Lillehammer, Norway.

Research Interests

  • Dr. Williams’ research draws from theory and methods of environmental psychology, consumer behavior, and human geography to study the meanings, perceptions, and uses of natural environments for application to public lands planning and policy and ecosystem management.
  • His current research focus is advancing knowledge and methods for describing and mapping place specific values and meanings held by stakeholders and the social forces and practices shaping those values and meanings.

To top of page  To top of page

Selected Projects

Research Program Overview

The practice of public sector natural resource management increasingly seeks more integrated and temporally and spatially multi-scaled ecosystem management strategies that emphasize collaborative and adaptive multi-stakeholder approaches to resource planning and decision-making. These emerging strategies call into question utilitarian models inherited from the Progressive era – models anchored in consumer theories from economics and social psychology -- used to explain public (nonmarket) uses and values of natural landscapes. Within this evolving post-utilitarian management context, new models are needed for assessing an elusive and conflicted mix of historical, emotional, and socio-symbolic meanings and values that come to the surface in the unfolding process of collaborative ecosystem management. My research addresses a range of social science problems that arise out of this nascent context: (1) how to identify and assess the various meanings and values embedded in natural resource decision making and understand how these are shaped by and, in turn, shape social actions and ecological changes across the landscape; (2) how to adapt the advances in philosophy and methods of social science for application to natural resource contexts and assess their implications for the interface between science and decision making; and (3) how to improve and assess emerging collaborative planning practices in natural resource planning and decision making. Cutting across all three of these topics is the notion of place and global scale social processes and a longstanding interest in how people experience and value outdoor recreation and nature contact.

The Concept of Place in Natural Resource Management

Social and geographic concepts of place are capturing increasing attention in natural resource management, with place-related terms showing up more prominently in the technical vocabulary of natural resource management. Place concepts are turning up in textbooks on ecosystem management and finding their way into technical documents including the Forest Service's Handbook for Scenery Management and the Environmental Protection Agency's recently published Community Culture and the Environment: A Guide to Understanding a Sense of Place . Managers increasingly talk about managing for sense of place and special places , measuring place attachment among recreation visitors and community residents, and instituting collaborative place-based planning processes. Professional interest in these ideas is growing because they shed light on important issues related to public involvement in the management of wildlands, regional tourism planning, and community issues of sprawl and open space preservation. The social-geographic analysis of place is the central organizing concept in my research program.

Links to related research projects and publications

Experiences and Values of Outdoor Recreation and Nature Contact

While place is the organizing concept of my research, understanding how people experience and benefit from nature contact in their daily lives has been the substantive focus of my work over the years. Much of my research, therefore, has been directed at understanding the meaning and experiences of outdoor recreation, the context within which most Americans interact with nature. This work is focused primarily on meanings and attachments to recreation places, formation and expression of identity, and user conflicts. In recent years my research has turned to the impact of changing lifestyles, particularly of increased mobility on the use, meaning, and experience of outdoor recreation places.

Links to related research projects and publications

Meanings, Values and the Practice of Natural Resource Management

Outdoor recreation is an important context within which meanings and values for nature are formed and expressed and represents a large part of the diverse and conflicted mix of public meanings and values that managers must try to address in resource decision making. Managers also need help understanding how these meanings and values are connected to social processes and institutional practices for making valuations and decisions. From a social science perspective valuation can be understood as a social process for organizing, ordering, and/or choosing among goods. These ordering processes are carried out through a multitude of institutions including markets, science, and various democratic and legal institutions. Embedded in these institutions are myriad social practices, including various forms of education, communication, and collaboration. The goal of this research is to help managers understand the role of these practices and institutions in shaping and ordering public values in natural resource planning and decision-making.

Links to related research projects and publications

Values and Value Conflict in a Changing Landscape

Valuation and value conflicts are complicated by social and biophysical changes across the landscape. Biophysical changes range from ecological disturbances such as wildfire and invasive species to efforts to restore disturbed or fire suppressed ecosystems. Likewise, social changes as basic as population growth and as complex as globally driven social and economic restructuring are also disruptive and provoke value conflicts. Consequently, working through diverse and conflicted values in natural resource decision making involves understanding the impact of landscape change and disturbance on landscape meanings and values. In addition, this research relates back to Amenity migration and recreational homes and values and practices in natural resource management .

Links to related research projects and publications

To top of page  To top of page

Selected Publications

Most of these publications (and a few others not listed here) are available from Treesearch, an online system for locating and delivering publications authored by Research and Development scientists in the USDA Forest Service. Publications in the collection include research monographs published by the agency as well as papers written by our scientists but published by other organizations including journals, conference proceedings, and books. In some cases it may be necessary to search for the proceedings by title and/or editor instead of by article, author, and/or title.

To view the following PDF files, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free of charge from Adobe's website.


  • Garst, B. A., Williams, D. R., & Roggenbuck, J. W. (in press). Exploring early 21 st century developed forest camping experiences and meanings. Leisure Sciences.

  • Brummel, R. F., Nelson, K. C., Grayzeck-Souter, S., Jakes, P. J., & Williams, D. R. (in press). Social learning in a policy-mandated collaboration: Community wildfire protection planning in the eastern United States. Journal of Environmental Planning & Management.

In Print

  • McIntyre, N., Roggenbuck, J. W., & Williams, D. R. (2006). Home and away: Re-visiting ‘escape' in the context of second homes. McIntyre, N., Williams, D. R & McHugh, K. E. (eds.), Multiple dwelling and tourism: Negotiating place, home, and identity (pp. 114-128). Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing.
  • Williams, D. R., and Van Patten, S. R. (2006). Home and away? Creating identities and sustaining places in a multicentered world. In McIntyre, N., Williams, D. R & McHugh, K. E. (eds.), Multiple dwelling and tourism : Negotiating place, home, and identity (pp. 32-50). Cambridge, MA: CABI Publishing.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Place-identity. In J. Jenkins & J. Pigram (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 367-368). London: Routledge.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Activity. In J. Jenkins & J. Pigram (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 367-368). London: Routledge.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Choice. In J. Jenkins & J. Pigram (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 367-368). London: Routledge.
  • Patterson, M. E., Montag, J. M., & Willaims, D. R. (2003). Urbanisation of wildlife management: Social Science, conflict, and decision making. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 1, 171-183.
  • Vaske, J. J., Donnelly, M. P., Williams, D. R., & Yonders, S., (2001). Demographic influences on enviornmental value orientations and normative beliefs about national forest management. Society and Natural Resources, 14 (9), 761-776.
  • Patterson, M. E., Watson, A. E., Williams, D. R., & Roggenbuck, J. W. (1998). A hermeneutic approach to studying the nature of wilderness experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 30, 423-452.
  • Patterson, M. E. and Williams, D. R. (1998). Paradigms and problems: The practice of social science in natural resource management. society and Natural Resources, 11, 279-295.
  • Mowen, A. J., Graefe, A. R. & Williams, D. R. (1998). An assessment of activity and trail type as indicators of trail user diversity. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 16(1), 80-96.
  • Williams, D. R. & M. E. Patterson (1996). Environmental meaning and ecosystem management: Perspectives from environmental psychology and human geography. Social and Natural Resources, 9(5), 507-521.
  • Watson, A. E., Niccolucci, M. J., & Williams, D. R. (1994). The nature of conflict between hikers and recreation stock users in the John Muir Wilderness. Journal of Leisure Research, 26, 372-385.
  • Patterson, M. E., Williams, D. R., & Schrael, L. (1994). Identity and the experience of wilderness: Analysis of experience narratives from Australia and the USA. In J. C. Hendee & V. martin (Eds.), Proceedings of a symposium during the 5th World Wilderness Congress on International Wilderness Allocation, Management and Research (Tromso, Norway, Sept., 1993, pp. 240-246). Ft. Collins, CO: The Wild Foundation.
  • Carr, D. S. & Williams, D. R. (1993). Understanding the role of ethnicity in outdoor recreation experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 25, 22-38.
  • Williams, D. R. (1993). Research Update: Conflict in the great outdoors. Parks and Recreation, pp. 28-30, 32, 33-34, 122.
  • Roggenbuck, J. W., Williams, D. R., & Watson, A. E. (1993). Defining acceptable conditions in wilderness. Environmental Management, 17, 187-197.
  • Knopf, R. C., Graefe, A., & Williams, D. R. (1993). Defining appropriate recreation used for a publicly managed river recreation environment. In Proceedings of the 1992 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium (General Technical Report NE-176, pp. 146-152). Radnor, PA : USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station.
  • Watson, A. E., Niccolucci, M. J., & Williams, D. R. (1993). Hikers and recreational stock users: Predicting and managing recreational conflicts in the wilderness (Research Paper INT-468, 35p.). Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station.
  • Carr, D. S. & Williams, D. R. (1993). Understanding diverse recreationists: Beyond quantitative analysis. In Gobster (Ed.), Managing Urban and High-Use Recreation Settings (General Technical Report, NC-163, pp. 101-106). St. Paul, MN: USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station.
  • Williams, D. R., Roggenbuck, J.W., Patterson, M. E., & Watson, A. E. (1992). The variability of user-based social impact standards for wilderness management. Forest Science, 38, 738-756.
  • Haggard. L. M., & Williams, D. R. (1992). Self-identity through leisure activities. Jouranl of Leisure Research, 24, 1-18.
  • Williams, D. R., Roggenbuck, J.W., & Bange, S. P. (1991). The effect of norm-encourter compatibility on crowding perceptions, experience and behavior in river recreation settings. Joural of Leisure Research, 23, 154-172.
  • Roggenbuck, J.W., Williams, D. R., Bange, S. P., & Dean, D. J. (1991). River float trip encounter norms: Questioning the use of the social norms concept. Journal of Leisure Research, 23, 133-153.
  • Watson, A. E., Williams, D. R., & Daigle, J. J. (1991). Sources of conflict between hikers and mountain bike riders in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Jouranl of Park and Recreation Administration, 9(3), 59-71.
  • Haggard. L. M., & Williams, D. R. (1991). Self-identity benefits of leisure activities. In B. Driver, G. Peterson, & T. Bround (Eds.), Benefits of Leisure (pp. 103-120). State College, PA: Venture Press.

To top of page  To top of page

Discussion and Presentation Papers

Discussion and presentation papers report work in progress. They are written to share ideas, concepts, and theories as well as preliminary empirical data. Some discussion and presentation papers have not been peer reviewed or approved for publication. Comments are welcome.

  • Paper presented at the Consensus Symposium on Leisure and the Quality of Life: Contributions of Leisure to Social, Economic, and Cultural Development, Hangzhou, China, April 18-24, 2006, World Leisure Association.

To top of page  To top of page

Home | Personnel | Projects | Publications | Nonmarket Valuation | Discussion Papers | Software | Seminars | Links | Contacts

Questions or comments? Contact Webmaster

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Research Station