Podcast: Rationing Recreation Access with Dr. Will Rice

Host Micah Drew talks with wildland recreation management researcher Will Rice about different systems used to ration access to public recreation spaces, how those can be exclusionary and what future solutions there might be for recreation managers.

By Micah Drew

“We need to provide diverse experiences for diverse preferences and needs. And what we’ve kind of failed to do over the last 40-50 years is extend that principle of “different strokes for different folks,” different opportunities for different preferences and needs, to how we ration use.” ~ Dr. Will Rice

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At 8 a.m. on March 15, Glacier National Park’s advance online reservation window opened to a groundswell of prospective backpackers eager to nab a prized wilderness campground permit. Within 10 minutes, however, the park’s most coveted campsites had filled, and the reservation window slammed shut on a host of highly sought-after multi-day itineraries.The new online system is part of a nationwide shift toward online, contact-less reservations to access outdoor spaces.

Will Rice, the head of the Wildland and Recreation Management Research Lab at the University of Montana uses social science to help wildland recreation managers improve the experiences of all visitors while preserving the ecosystems that support those experiences, and has published studies on different access strategies for recreation spaces like campgrounds. Dr. Rice joined host Micah Drew to talk about his research, how an online system can be exclusionary and what the solutions to managing access to popular outdoor spaces may look like in the future.

Later, Micah runs through the news of the week including construction in the Flathead Valley, a bill in the legislature that would limit obstretic care, and an upcoming appearance by virtuoso violinist Midori with the Glacier Symphony.

Read Dr. Rice’s latest research on the recreation rationing spectrum below.

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The music in this episode is “Thinking Music” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) and is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. The episode also features two songs from local singer/songwriter Mike Murray’s album We Are Like Warriors, “The Good Ol’ Days You’re In” and “Moment of Time,” used with permission.