All posts by harbinger

Please support hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We were scheduled to present at the North American Association for Environmental Education annual conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this month. But Hurricane Maria had other ideas. Please join us in supporting a relief charity you trust. Here’s one: NAAEE’s “Together for Puerto Rico” fund. The fund will direct resources to Para La Naturaleza, which maintains more than 50 natural areas, conducts environmental education programs, and champions conservation in Puerto Rico—and now joins in the vast effort to recover and rebuild.

Harbinger completed a study of the projected economic impact of the trail network proposed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Texas) Active Plan. Nearly 300 miles of walking, bicycling, and paddling trails and routes are expected to attract $70 million in visitor spending annually, supporting 960 local jobs and adding more than $8 million to local and state government coffers. That’s only the start of the benefits for the communities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which will also see north of $6 million in annual health care cost savings from increased physical activity. Download the study and summary report at npca.org/lrgv.

Let’s Talk About Water is now available. This guide to framing local water issues for productive, deliberative discussions results from a collaboration among the North American Association for Environmental Education, the Kettering Foundation, and teams from five states who developed their own issue guides and were indispensably helpful in figuring out how to make this process accessible to people who are not steeped in the practices of naming and framing public issues for deliberation.

Michele Archie co-facilitated the engagement of the five state teams, offered guidance to the teams as they learned by doing, and wrote the Let’s Talk About Water guide.

Let’s Talk About Water and the issue guides developed by the five state teams, are available for download on the EIF issue guides webpage here.

 

A new deliberative forum discussion guide on America’s energy future is now available. Michele Archie led the effort to produce this document, which outlines three approaches to addressing energy issues for discussion in communities, classrooms, and online forums.

This brief “issue advisory” updates a 2014 National Issues Forums issue guide, updating the role of renewables and domestic fossil fuel production, and focusing more attention on issues of energy distribution. It is part of the Environmental Issues Forums initiative.

Download the issue advisory, facilitator guide, and post-forum questionnaire here: Energy Choices: What Should We Do About America’s Energy Future? or on the North American Association for Environmental Education’s EIF issue guide page.

Resource guides for middle-school and high-school teachers who want to use these materials and forums in their classrooms are available here.

 

 

ScenicWildDelawareRiver.com is one year old today! Harbinger helped conceive of the idea for this nine-county collaborative effort to promote sustainable tourism around the middle and upper Delaware River, which runs between Pennsylvania to the west and New Jersey and New York to the east.

We’ve been on board helping with organizing a regional Geotourism Stewardship Council to promote both the destination and policies and practices that will sustain it. We’ve been managing the website, which boasts over 700 entries provided by local contributors who are sharing what’s special about their home with potential visitors. We keep in touch with these folks through a monthly newsletter, feel free to subscribe.

And, with long-time client and partner, the Mid-Atlantic regional office of National Parks Conservation Association, we’ve been helping out with many of the details of organizing and evaluating this complex initiative.

Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence is hot off the presses. Michele Archie was on the writing team for this ambitious, 169-page document aimed to provide environmental educators guidance and resources for working in, with, and for communities.

This is the latest publication of long-time Harbinger client, the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, which the North American Association for Enviromental Education initiated in 1994. Michele Archie was the writer on the very first set of guidelines the project published: K-12 guidelines for learning.

Waco Mammoth National Monument beat Harbinger’s projections for visitor activity and revenue figures for 2016, its first full year of operation.

Park staff report that about half of 2016 visitors were national park travelers who specifically wanted to visit a national monument, underscoring the benefits of a sustained community effort to get National Park Service involvement with the city-run Waco Mammoth Site. President Obama designated a National Park Service National Monument on July 10, 2015.

In 2016, the park showed a significant boost in visitor activity and revenue:

  • Visitation —  up 107%
  • Revenue from tours, educational programs, special events, and gift shop sales — up 76%
  • Revenue from guided tours, despite a price reduction upon designation — up 70%

This performance dramatically outstripped the projections made in a 2015 Harbinger assessment. The park welcomed nearly three times more visitors than our estimates for Year One. We’ve never been so pleased to be wrong! Find the fact sheet here.

Michele Archie’s article on conservation and tourism development in “America’s Amazon” has been published by the National Park Service. The article draws from a year and a half of research and collaboration with local organizations exploring conservation alternatives in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.

The report, entitled, A state of knowledge of the natural, cultural, and economic resources of the Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area, is a compilation of 23 chapters from experts in everything from crustaceans to cultural resources.

Here’s the official description of the report:

From the convergence of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers in southern Alabama, arise the sister Mobile and Tensaw Rivers, and one of the great natural and cultural wonders of North America. The Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area has been called “America’s Amazon” because of its obvious natural bounty, wondrous complexity, and profound diversity. Dramatic bluff lands and pinelands plunge down to the Mobile-Tensaw Bottomlands and Delta comprised of ever-changing levees, islands, channels, and bayous.

The region’s unique geology and hydrology underpin its dynamic biotic systems as, likewise, do associated ecological processes that range from the lingering influences of ancient and far-off continental glaciation to the daily rise and fall of tides and changes in water salinity. Flora and fauna of the area are at once fragile and bountiful—the area contains many endangered, threatened, and special concern species, but also tree species diversity that ranks among the highest in North America, a diverse assemblage of freshwater crustaceans, over 200 species of birds, and likely the greatest turtle diversity in the world.

The Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area is steeped in human history, as well, from the originating Native American tribes and the mysteries of their ancient mounds awaiting exploration; through the area’s critical role in European settlement of America and, later, the American Civil War; through today’s cultural and economic vibrancy of its adjacent urban center, Mobile. Here people’s lives are woven among the dynamic rhythms of the area’s lands and waters. Yet, much remains elusive about how the area’s places are connected ecologically, socially, and economically.

This holistic volume combines science, natural and cultural history, economics, and personal reflection to call attention to the connectivity of the area, to acknowledge challenges from human encroachment, and to serve as a foundation for a discussion of shared ecological, cultural, and economic stewardship of the Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area.

Civil War Trust has asked Harbinger to assess battlefield tourism’s economic benefits, looking at US battlefields from the Civil War and other wars including the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Indian Wars, and World War II. The study will be published in 2017, expanding the scope of our 2013 Blue, Gray & Green study, which focused solely on Civil War battlefields.