SHIFT Updates Principles

During the 2014 SHIFT Festival, The SHIFT Roundtable on Land Conservation, Wilderness Advocacy & Human-Powered Outdoor Recreation, which sought to develop stronger partnerships between natural allies for the benefit of conservation, identified the reduction of division among such allies as a key to successful conservation efforts.

In June 2015, The Conservation and Recreation Summit, held in Grand Teton National Park at The Murie Center, used this observation as the starting point for a conversation between fifteen outdoor recreation enthusiasts, conservation advocates and public land managers who had convened to explore ways to better protect America’s outdoor heritage.

The participants, who came from the three interest groups in roughly equal proportion, agreed that a set of principles that served as a unified framework for natural allies would reduce internal conflict and increase success in the protection of our public lands, waters and wildlife. At the Summit’s conclusion, the participants therefore proposed six Principles for Advancing Outdoor Recreation and Conservation.

The principles aimed to guide collaboration among outdoor recreationists, conservationists, and public land managers and serve as a starting point for collective, strategic conversations and actions to protect our lands, waters and wildlife.

In 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife adopted the Principles, adding a key component that acknowledged the role private lands play in full-landscape solutions. Over the past two years we’ve come to recognize the importance of two other elements omitted in the original Principles: urban areas, where most Americans live; and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Accordingly, we’ve updated the Principles as follows:


  1. Outdoor recreation and conservation require that a diversity of lands and waters be publicly owned, available for public access, and well-stewarded. The uniquely American public land heritage is a privilege and a birthright. Stewardship of our public lands – including waters and wildlife – is our responsibility.
  2. Recreation and conservation need each other. Both are beneficial to economic well-being, quality of life and personal health. Outdoor recreation helps people understand the importance of healthy, intact ecosystems, which builds support for their protection and stewardship. Conservation protects the natural resources and wild places upon which outdoor recreation depends.
  3. The future of our public lands depends on support from all Americans. Outdoor recreation and conservation must reflect, respect and value the demographic and cultural diversity of our country in order to engage a coalition of stakeholders broad enough to insure the health and wellbeing of our public lands. This requires that they be relevant to all, regardless of ability, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, including the 85% of Americans who live in urban areas and the private landowners whose lands provide connectivity and full-landscape solutions.
  4. Outdoor users are responsible for avoiding and minimizing the impacts of their use. All recreation has impact. Ethical outdoor behavior that demonstrates respect for lands, water, and wildlife and that respects the value of connecting all people to the outdoors is critical and must be developed in all users and in future generations. Responsible recreation – which fosters and is informed by a conservation ethic while promoting diverse, inclusive and next-generation engagement – is essential.
  5. Proactive, professional planning and management, combined with public education, is necessary to care for the land and provide a diversity of quality recreation opportunities. Active public engagement in crafting solutions is necessary to ensure solutions are fair and can be effectively implemented. A broad landscape approach is necessary to make better decisions about which activities are best suited for which locations and provide a spectrum of opportunities to serve diverse interests.
  6. Physical, biological and social science must inform the management of recreation. Management decisions should be grounded in the best available scientific information to ensure the protection of natural areas and the sustainability of resources while maintaining and enhancing the quality of outdoor recreation experiences.
  7. Stable, long-term, and diverse funding sources are essential to protect the environment and support outdoor recreation. Land management agencies need adequate funding from federal, state, and local government sources, supplemented by (but not replaced by) new and non-traditional funding from private and nonprofit sources.

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