Lecture: Significant Shifts: The Impacts of Recreation Trends on Forest Management and Community Health

May 8, 2017


Timber, forest health and regulation focused on controlling access used to be the primary focus of managing public lands. But in the last decade, public lands have become highly desirable recreational destinations which has triggered changes in US Forest Service land use, management strategies, policies, review processes and partnerships with surrounding communities. Outdoor recreation on public lands contributes $13 billion to the US national economy and supports 205,000 jobs. The Forest Service is starting to recognize the value of public access and recreation shifting a long history of strict controls to enabling and encouraging recreation access. Seeking greater quality of life, people are relocating to communities with proximity to public lands and a recreation slant. These influxes are changing the relationship between communities and the forest in positive and negative ways that must be anticipated and planned for. Advances in data gathering technology have enhanced our understanding of where people are going, what they are doing, and how they spend their money when residing in or visiting these areas. Trail use has increased exponentially—in some cases from a couple dozen users to tens of thousands of hikers and bikers accessing a single trailhead annually. Mike Gabor, Forest Engineer for the US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Unit, will discuss the social, environmental, economic and aesthetic impacts of recreation trends in public lands that planners and landscape architects are well equipped to address when working with agencies and communities.

Instructor: Mike Gabor, US Forest Service

Mike Gabor has served as a Forest Engineer for the US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit since 2008. During this time, he has delivered over $30 million in projects across the Forest on roads, trails, administrative facilities, fire facilities and recreation facilities such as campground and day-use reconstruction projects at Lake Tahoe with over 6 million visitors per year. A Professional Hydrologist and Civil Engineer, he has received additional education and training in forest plan implementation and has been recognized by national awards program for his work in sustainable recreation and accessibility. Gabor has worked with external partners to develop a world-class trail system at Lake Tahoe. His efforts have changed the conflict between the mountain bike community and the Forest from antagonistic to collaborative. The success of this thriving partnership is creating new jobs and recreation opportunities in the area. In addition, he has worked with external partners such as the Tahoe Transportation District, Placer County, Washoe County, Douglas County and Nevada Department of Transportation and Caltrans to improve Class 1 bike trails and transportation systems that link to Forest Service lands. Prior to joining the Lake Tahoe Basin Unit, Mike worked at the San Bernardino National Forest in California, and as a Civil Engineer at several private firms. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Platteville with a degree in civil engineering.