Balancing Recreation and Energy Development — Part 6: Conclusion

The recent whitepaper published by Public Land Solutions’ outlines how public land managers can best balance recreation and energy development. This is the final post from our whitepaper Best Practices for Balancing Recreation and Energy Development on Our Public Lands which summarizes:

  1. The Status of Recreation Economies
  2. Common Problems from Energy Developments that Impact Recreation Resources on Our Public Lands
  3. Legal Framework for Managing Recreation as a Multiple Use of Public Lands, and
  4. Solutions and Policy Recommendations
  • Planning Tools
  • Implementation of Best Practices and Improved Technologies, and
  • Engaging the Public and Key Stakeholders Early and Often in Planning for Energy Development
Mountain Biking, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Part 6. Conclusion

The economic and quality of life benefits that recreation brings to communities across the country are growing with each year. The recreation economy now boasts over $887 billion in consumer spending and many communities are choosing to invest in recreation assets as a way to diversify their local economies.

However, while federal law requires that land agencies provide equal opportunities for multiple uses of public lands — including recreation — energy development can negatively impacts recreation experiences and limit associated economic and health benefits.

Slickrock Trail near Moab, Utah | Oil well near Long Canyon, Utah

The good news is that many of the common problems brought by energy developments on recreation assets and experiences can be ameliorated through proven approaches such as smart from the start landscape level planning, the implementation of best practices, improved technologies, and better communication among stakeholders.

Salmon River, Idaho

Communities are demanding more from their public lands. They expect both mineral lease royalties and recreation assets. Poorly planned energy development has brought short-term booms to residents, but it has also left them with fewer options when either the resource price drops or the resource is exhausted. Local land managers and community leaders can utilize the policy recommendations outlined in this report to support appropriate energy production and meet the goals of communities who wish to diversify their public land use with investments in recreation assets. This will ensure that communities of all types are able to optimize nearby public lands today and into the future.

Mountain Biking, La Sal Mountains, Utah

Click here for the full version of our whitepaper on Balancing Recreation and Energy Development on Our Public Lands. Learn more about Public Land Solutions here.