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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.

The new climate change deliberative forum discussion guide is now available! Michele Archie is one of three writers who worked together to produce this document, which outlines three approaches to addressing climate change issues for discussion in communities, classrooms, and online forums.

It’s a collaborative effort of the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Kettering Foundation, prepared for the National Issues Forums Institute. Download the issue guide, a shorter “issue advisory,” facilitator guide, and post-forum questionnaire here: Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet?

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

Want to know more about Environmental Issues Forums? Visit the EIF page on the NAAEE website.


Everyday Democracy is rewriting its dialogue guide on police-community relations, with Harbinger’s help. Harbinger wrote the original Protecting Communities and Serving the Public guide in 2000. Since that time, the public focus on racial disparities in law enforcement and criminal justice has grown stronger, especially in the wake of highly publicized police killings of unarmed black men. The new version of the guide will focus on bringing communities together to address issues of race in policing.

The Montana Wilderness Association released its new geotourism mapguide—Buttes, Breaks, and Badlands: Off the Beaten Path in Southeast Montana. This map is the product of the Southeast Montana Geotourism Project, a locally organized effort to highlight the unique natural, historical, and cultural sites in this relatively undiscovered corner of Montana.

Harbinger applied its experience working with National Geographic geotourism initiatives to shape this project from its inception, helping define the project, raise funds, and organize and collaborate with a broad-based advisory council. Harbinger also led the project editorial team.

Learn more, download the mapguide, use the online map, or buy a printed copy here.

President Obama made the Waco Mammoth Site the 408th unit of the National Park System today. Visitors to the Waco Mammoth National Monument can see in situ fossils of a nursery herd of Columbian mammoths that lived about 67,000 years ago. A coalition of local organizations sought the designation as a way to raise the profile of a unique community resource that already attracts 18,000 visitors per year, including 3,300 Central Texas students with school groups.

The new national monument is operated collaboratively with the City of Waco, which developed the site in accordance with National Park Service standards, setting up a seamless transition to the new designation. Waco Mammoth will continue to be supported by its nonprofit partner, the Waco Mammoth Foundation, and by collaborative relationships with Baylor University and local and regional museums.

A 2015 Harbinger assessment found that visitation to the Waco Mammoth National Monument is likely to grow three times faster over the next ten years than it would have without the National Park Service designation. Affiliation with the park service is also expected to accelerate fundraising and development of new visitor facilities and programming, and provide paleontology expertise leading to renewed research and fossil preparation onsite.

Download the fact sheet at

Today, the Missions of San Antonio were inscribed onto the list of World Heritage Sites, placing them in the company of fewer than 1,000 places around the world recognized for outstanding historical, artistic, scientific, or natural value. The designation comprises five historical Spanish missions, including the Alamo and four missions under the care of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Harbinger’s 2013 evaluation of potential economic impacts of World Heritage status projected that this designation could boost economic benefits from visitation to the missions by up to 26 percent by 2025. If local organizations collaborate on promotion and expanding cultural tourism offerings, the prestigious international designation could yield up to $105 million in additional local sales, more than 1,000 new jobs, and $2.2 million in additional hotel tax revenue.

To maximize the potential of World Heritage status, the study recommended a slate of collaborative actions involving promotion, developing new cultural tourism opportunities and businesses, enabling visitors to navigate the WHS easily, and building community awareness and involvement.

Download the study at

Harbinger study of potential economic benefits of a new National Park Service unit in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta released.

From 2013-2014, under contract with New Venture Fund, Harbinger consulted with an informal coalition of organizations on potential economic impacts of conservation designations in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and bluffs region, and on compatible tourism development.

Harbinger’s preliminary evaluation examined how a National Park Service unit, such as a National Park and Preserve, might help develop the economic potential of the patchwork of natural, cultural, and historical sites in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and surrounding region. It found that economic impacts could vary widely depending upon many factors, such as how the park and preserve is configured; the types of visitor facilities and services developed; the extent to which surrounding communities support, promote, and enhance visitors’ park experience; and how well discreet sites and events are coordinated and promoted to create more cohesive offerings for visitors.

The study found that, by its tenth year, a National Park and Preserve that is complemented by additional natural and cultural tourism development in the Delta region could support up to 1,074 new jobs in the seven-county region, primarily in areas away from the beaches, where most tourism activity is currently focused.

Download the technical and public reports here.