Narratives of Place: Integrated Digital Storytelling and Story-Mapping for Sustainable Recreation Management




, Digital storytelling, narrative, StoryMap, sustainable recreation management, place


Spatial data applications frequently examine behavior and values across recreation landscapes. While narratives are atypical in these analyses, ArcGIS Story- Map supports integrating spatial and narrative data. Digital storytelling, which various publicly engaged fields employ, entails first-person narratives told in short montages of video, images, sound, and voiceover that engage both storyteller and audience. This case study research explores digital storytelling and story-mapping as a novel methodology to understand, communicate, and inform recreation values and management. Specifically, it examines whether and how these methods contributed to the collaborative, non-motorized trails planning Pole Mountain Gateways project with the USDA Forest Service. Using purposive sampling, we supported stakeholders to create digital stories (N = 9) about their experiences and values in the Medicine Bow National Forest Pole Mountain Unit near Laramie, Wyoming, USA. Stakeholders’ stories were topically diverse and spatially distributed across the recreation landscape. Stories reflected aspects of the USDA Forest Service framework on sustainable recreation, including ecosystems, healthy communities, equitable economies, culture and traditions, stewardship values, present and future generations, place-based recreation, social-ecological systems, and collaborative community engagement. Pole Mountain Gateways land manager interviews (N = 4) assessed the utility of this integrated approach. Managers discussed place-based digital stories as a complimentary tool for representing and communicating diverse stakeholder values; engaging the public and supporting partner relationships; and aiding in broad, collaborative decisions and projects. This case systematically describes a process for integrated digital storytelling and story-mapping for sustainable recreation and collaborative public lands management. We identify opportunities for further developing and exploring this novel, narrative approach.

Author Biographies

Rachael Budowle, University of Wyoming

Assistant Professor, Community Reslience and Sustainability, Haub School for Environment and Natural Resources

Abigail M Sisneros-Kidd, University of Wyoming

Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Logan Stefanich, University of Wyoming

Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

L. Steven Smutko, University of Wyoming

Spicer Chair of Collaborative Practice, Ruckelshaus Institute
Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources
Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics